mobile search - Digital Marketing Agency

Mobile Search – The Proof (For the US anyway)

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My posts last week were an attempt at an introduction to mobile internet – why you need to optimise for it and the things to consider.

Today I have stumbled upon some more ‘evidence’ to add to my arsenal which should be convincing people of the continued evolution and importance of mobile search. This research was conducted by ABI Research, a US based company- which of course is not 100% the same as an Australian piece of research, however, as the US are basically the worldwide leaders in the internet and often the blue print for a lot of Australian behaviour, unfortunately, it shouldn’t be too bad an indicator of things to come.

The results did surprise me, perhaps Australia is different to the US, but in the US, apparently in 2008 over 70% of mobile phone users used their mobile to do an internet search. This was an increase in usage of 14% on the previous year – which fell short of the predictions many people made for mobile search in 2008, where it was meant to skyrocket.

At first I thought this was massively high, but then I remembered that this included usage such as emails (what else is a Blackberry for?) and downloading music or ringtones.  This 70% didn’t necessarily mean using Google.

The behaviour of these searches wasn’t particularly encouraging for online businesses, with big increases in searchers looking for news and content to download (such as music), whereas local information searches remained about the same as the previous years. The percentage use of social networking and sports content remained about the same on the previous year as well.

However, with the increase in usage comes an increase in familiarity, comfort and obviously an increase in technological capability. With people now Googling at the drop of a hat while on a desk top, it is easy to imagine an increasing market for Google mobile as more people get comfortable with using the technology.

Mobile Search Part 2

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In my  post yesterday I spoke briefly about why some businesses need to consider mobile-friendly site design and mobile SEO. Today I will be following up on that post by outlining some of the things you need to consider to make this happen.

To work in the mobile internet market, you need to think about the actual differences between a mobile device and a PC. Then, you need to keep those in mind all the time, from when you are designing your mobile site, to when you are performing SEO on it. The website design rules are dramatically different because of the limitations inherent in using a mobile device to view a web page. The SEO principles for a mobile site are largely similar, however there are a few differences to take note of and a lot of opportunities which aren’t available in ‘desktop’ SEO.

So, what are the differences between desktop and mobile web? Firstly, obviously, there is the screen size issue. Which limits the amount you can put onto a screen and still make it look good. This will limit what you can do with fonts, content, images and other facets of your web page. You might want to say all the same messages but in limited format, or you might want to present only the mobile-relevant content in the space available.

Secondly, there are the usability issues – mobile internet is usually viewed on hand held devices, used one-handed, and usually using a numeric keypad. This limits the amount of typing people will be willing to do and increases the desire for easy navigation.

Thirdly, there is the patience issue. If someone is using a mobile device it is likely because they are on the move or they are looking for a quick reference. It is unlikely that a mobile device user will have the same time and patience as a desk top user.

So what do you need to do to address all these mobile-specific issues? A lot of things, but here are a few action-critical few to get you started…

  1. Make sure you have a mobile-specific site. If you think your customers are likely to use mobile devices to view your site, you want to encourage them and reward their loyalty by giving them a good user experience. This will require specialist design, and lots of testing to ensure that it is being rendered appropriately on the different kinds of mobile devices (e.g. Nokia vs Iphone).
  2. Keyword research – this will be very different to desktop keyword research as you will have fewer characters. Google Adwords has a new feature in their Keyword tool which will help suggest keywords if you are running mobile ads. Also, mobile search looks like it will be heavily influenced by predictive keyword suggestions, (like Google already does) to save on time and frustration for the mobile device user.  Also, predictive suggestions can help you figure out what terms you might want to be optimising for.
  3. Mobile search will depend on location a lot more than desktop search, which means location identifiers are critical in your mobile SEO efforts.
  4. Remember traditional SEO practices like crawlability and links, these are still relevant for mobile search.
  5. Make sure your site is mobile compliant
  6. Record and analyse – use web analytics to track your mobile users behaviour, so you have first hand knowledge of the differences inherent in mobile users. For example, gauge their attitude to your site (page views, bounce rates, content preferences), the sources of your traffic, keywords used and exit pages.To do this you can make an advanced segment in Google Analytics as advised here (not 100% recommended by that author, and I haven’t yet tried it personally) or ask your paid analytics provider to provide this segmentation for you (if possible).

Mobile SEO is a huge new undertaking for any webmaster, and these are only a few of the things you will need to consider when upgrading your site to be usable on mobile devices. I highly recommend that you contact experts to help you with your debut on the mobile internet.

Mobile Search Engine Marketing

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More and more people are now using a Blackberry, Ipod or other mobile phone to search the web when they are out and about. That might be to find the address of where they are going, price compare while shopping or even to cheat in pub trivia.

While it is not yet the majority of people, nor could it even be called mainstream here in Australia, it does exist, and it will only increase. As the web continues to become an integral part of our life, as technology continues to push forward increasing the capability of mobile devices, and as the Australian Government strives to improve internet accessability for all  (a ha ha ha), the number of people using the internet away from their desktop is only going to increase.

What does this mean for business and site owners? Well, not only do you now need to consider how you can build a mobile-friendly version of your website (desktop-style sites are often impossible or inconvenient to view on a mobile device), but you also need to start considering how search marketing is going to be different for this new media.

Google and other search engines now have mobile versions of their sites, which make it easier for people to read the results on the go. The thing with mobile search is though, the rankings are now taking new parameters into consideration, such as your sites suitability for the mobile user.

There are a range of differences between mobile and desktop users of the internet, which will affect both your PPC and SEO campaigns. For example, keywords will likely be shorter and more specific in mobile search than on a desktop. Usability will obviously be different. Visibility of the top 10 ranks will be compromised. Requirements of mobile devices are different. Even measuring the activity of mobile users is a new frontier – there are tools out there which can measure mobile searchers, but maybe your analytics tool won’t be one of them.

Tomorrow we will go into a bit more detail on what you need to do and consider to try and keep up with the mobile evolution – looking at important facets of a mobile site and how to optimise those sites for mobile search.

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