Mobile web isn’t the future of the Internet; it’s happening now. The Local Search Association found that local search via handheld devices increased more than fourfold in 2012 and Gartner sees cellulars overtaking computers as the most common device for Internet access in 2013.
Tablets and phones are quickly becoming the main means by which consumers receive information, services, and digital and physical products. We’ve had six generations of iPhones, dozens of tablet models, hundreds of Android phones, and thousands of other devices being manufactured as we speak. Plus, wireless Internet is just everywhere.
Mobile optimization is absolutely critical for businesses, especially when mobile web is heavily used for local search.
Statistics that Support the Importance of Mobile Optimization
Here are more facts and figures:
- 1 of 3 searches on phones and tablets have local intent (as opposed to 1 out 5 on desktop). People searching on their phone are probably in search of something around them, like directions or a phone number of a local business. Handheld devices can provide immediate search results – not everyone can be in front of their computer all the time.
- Commercial intent is stronger. A consumer using their phone to search for a taxi provider probably wants urgent service compared to a user searching for the same thing at home in the evening. Searchers on-the-go want quick answers to their problem, so theoretically, they’re closer to the decision to purchase.
- Google currently enjoys a 95% share of mobile search queries around the world.
- 67% of users claim to be more likely to purchase from mobile-friendly websites, but 96% of consumers say they’ve visited sites that weren’t designed for cell phones and tablets. That leaves companies a huge opportunity to market to these users.
- 61% of users claim they will move on to another site if they didn’t immediately find what they’re looking for in a mobile site.
- 74% of U.S. smartphone users get location-based information from their phones in real time.
- 54% of global Facebook users access the social network on their phone; for Twitter, it’s 60%.
Mobile Optimization Tips
Many of us aren’t dedicating time for mobile optimization, so here’s a stepwise action plan to help you make progress in this business operation.
1. Develop sites so they can be used across different devices.
A mobile website developed for iOS won’t look good on a Windows phone, or it might not appear at all. A big chunk of smartphone users have an Android phone or a Nokia. They may not even have the latest OS version.
2. Create a responsive design.
A site has a responsive design if it automatically adjusts its content, navigation and layout according to screen size, allowing websites to be consistent across multiple platforms. At the same time, consider tablets and don’t pigeonhole yourself into doing mobile optimization for smartphones only. For example, the user experience is going to be different on an iPad 2, a Kindle Fire, and an Android.
Bottom line, stop building mobile-specific designs and instead create a responsive site.
3. Use different keywords for mobile optimization.
Desktop searches use different keywords, and searches on phones may be done through voice search, gesture search or Google Goggles, not just typing keywords into browsers. When searches do use keywords, they may have different meanings depending on the context.
Examine the keywords used to access your website through different platforms to optimize your site for all these queries. Google Analytics and such tools usually provide this data.
4. Make sure you have compact HTML or XHTML files.
Search engines often test a site’s compatibility with handheld devices by searching their Doctype for HTML or XHTML files. Most responsive design templates automatically add these files, but it pays to make sure these files are unblocked and available.
5. Place timely information in visible, prominent areas on the site.
If you have a restaurant, customers using their phones are more likely looking for your address or hours of operation, not your company history. Feature this type of information on a prominent area of your mobile landing page. If you force visitors to go on a treasure hunt to find your contact number, you’ve already lost them.
6. Feature calls to action carefully.
If you’re going to include calls to action on the site, set them on prominent spots as well, like the site’s upper left-hand corner. Websites for desktop usually have these words at the bottom-right area.
7. Limit scrolling.
Scrolling can be a struggle on phones and even tablets. Once they log in, give users the information they need with little to no scrolling. If the content is too long, break it up into pieces and separate into multiple pages.
8. Render images according to percentage.
By rending images based on a fixed number of pixels, they could end up disrupting the quality of displays. To avoid ruining your display and responsive site design, adjust image size using percentages.
9. Test everything.
This is still a relatively new field of online marketing. Although you may be doing this for years, there’s still room for testing. Don’t limit your mobile marketing strategies to just one advertising method and don’t worry about not getting your desired results right away. Try different tactics and learn from them.
These are a lot of tips to follow, but mobile optimization should be a must for businesses today. If you’re not able to handle all these optimization procedures, consider getting professional help.