The mobile Web has been gaining HUGE momentum in the past few years. Different statistics pertaining to the mobile Internet paint a vivid picture of the latter growing bigger each day:
- 76 percent of the world population (5.3 billion people) use mobile devices, of which over 1 billion are smartphones.
- The average iPhone user only spends 45% of his on-device time making voice calls
- Facebook pages drive 80% of newsletter sign-up’s through mobiles
- The number of mobile searches has grown 400% in the last year
- For many products, 1 in 7 searches comes from a mobile device
- 1/3 of flowers sold on Mother’s Day were through mobiles
- The mobile Web is expected to grow bigger than the desktop Internet by the end of 2014, etc.
This makes one wonder, “Oh my, isn’t it time I optimize my site for mobile users?” But thing is, while some Internet marketers are very excited about the Web going mobile and all that, a big portion of SEO’s are still rather skeptical about mobile taking over the “normal” search, which is well-illustrated by the fact that only 21% of online businesses have already optimized their sites for mobile users.
I’m not trying to say that “hey, there is no need to optimize your site for mobile”. Actually, that will definitely NOT hurt. However, a little bit of critical approach towards the mobile Internet won’t hurt either. So, let’s take a closer look at what the mobile World Wide Web is like.
People use different gadgets for different purposes
According to Google, people do different things on mobile devices than they do on their desktops. Although it is quite self-evident, what does it mean for SEO’s? Can you expect to find your target audiences among the mobile crowd? Are the majority of your users going mobile in the nearest future? Let us see what mobile users mostly use their devices for:
-1 out of 3 mobile searches is somehow related to local search
This means, if you have a local business, it’s time to give the mobile version of your site some serious thought. Also, get listed on Google Places (here are some tips on how to do it) and get your site indexed by corresponding vertical search engines, such as OpenTable.com or similar.
-36% of mobile Web surfers use their mobile devices to check out the news
So, if you are a news website (say, a blog that covers celebrity news), you stand a good chance with mobile users.
-49% of mobile users use their phones for social networking
This information would probably be of interest to those who invest heavily in social media marketing and expect users to “land” on their sites via particular social networking sites (for example, Facebook).
-79% of smartphone consumers use their phones to help with shopping, from comparing prices, to finding more product info, to locating a retailer.
Thus, if such users cannot find your site using the mobile search engine, or your site provides a poor mobile user experience, you are running the risk of losing quite a big portion of your potential customers
The good news is that those browsing from mobile devices convert times better than your average desktop user. For instance:
- 28% of people who see a mobile ad take action
- 33% of mobile users who access sites via their smartphones make purchases on them
- 59% of users visit an online store after looking it up online.
Pretty cool, huh? So, consider this when weighing the pros and cons of optimizing for mobile users.
Mobile apps perform better than mobile sites
A normal website would NOT, in most instances, look that good on a mobile device. A way out would be to either (1) serve a special mobile style sheet to mobile users, (2) create a special mobile version (usually a subdomain) of your site or (3) design a special app that mobile users can employ.
As for mobile style sheets, these are normally stripped of all the bulky content and the content that serves for decorative purposes only (for example, eye-pleasing images).
The mobile version of a site, in its turn, would normally be more compact and more easily navigable than a company’s “regular” website.
As far as mobile applications are concerned, www.opentable.com/mobile, for example, offers an entire range of mobile apps that can be installed on all sorts of mobile devices. And, in case your device is not supported, they have a neat mobile version of their site, too – http://m.opentable.com.
Besides, mobile apps tend to perform much better in terms of usability than the other 2 options (CSS sheets and mobile subdomains). According to Jakob Nielsen:
- Full (non-mobile) sites have a 58% success rate (perform well only on iPads and laptops)
- Mobile sites have a 64% success rate and
- Mobile apps have a 76% success rate.
The future of mobile SEO
Many experts believe that, with mobile browsers, sites and apps evolving, the bar for the mobile user experience is being constantly raised. Besides, mobile users have gotten savvier and already know what to expect from their browsing experiences.
So, in the future, we are likely to see more mobile optimization wonders, in both site optimization (making a site render faster on different mobile devices) and user experience enhancement.
Has your business gone mobile yet? Perhaps it’s time to think about it. Not long ago, we did a post on how to optimize websites for mobile users that you can use as a practical guide to mobile pages creation. Just see if that would be a priority in your niche and consider which one of the mobile SEO options (a CSS, a mobile site or a mobile app) to choose.
The views and opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of Marketing Pilgrim.
Aleh Barysevich is Marketing Director and Co-Founder of Link-Assistant.Com, a major SEO software provider and the maker of SEO PowerSuite tools. Link-Assistant.Com is a group of SEO professionals with years of SEO experience. Based on their expertise, company’s four-app SEO toolset was created, setting the industry’s benchmark for technology-powered Web professionals with years of SEO experience.