It wasn’t that long ago that the thought of optimizing your website for mobile devices as part of an overall SEO strategy would have seemed a waste of time. The thinking was, “Why spend time, money, and energy on optimizing around such a tiny segment of the searching public when nearly all internet searches were done in front of a laptop or desktop computer”. Oh how the times have changed.
Since the release of the first iPhone in June of 2007, searches done on mobile devices are growing rapidly from year to year, with the addition of new devices, including smart phones with the Android operating system, and tablets from both Apple and other manufacturers.
Mobile SEO Case-In-Point
Over the course of the last 3 years, we have seen the impact of mobile search stretch across all of our client accounts. To illustrate how much change we’ve seen just since January of 2010, I pulled mobile data from one of our long-standing clients.
The chart below is fairly telling, but to put this into perspective, look at these stats:
254.31% Increase in Traffic from Mobile Devices in 2011 compared with 2010
137.05% Increase in Traffic from Mobile Devices in 2012 (through September 30, 2012) compared with the entire year of 2011
739.89% Increase in Traffic from Mobile Devices in 2012 (to date through 9/30/12) compared with the entire year of 2010
But what does this mean for your SEO efforts? How should you be setting up your online space to put yourself in front of a segment of potential customers?
Work With Your SEO Team
The first, and obvious step, is to consult with your SEO team about what your options are. Every website is different, and that means different approaches to how much mobile optimization you should spend time and money on – an eCommerce site selling dog treats is much different than a medical practice, and they’ll have different mobile needs.
Your SEO team will work with you to evaluate your site, find out what your mobile goals are, and then to come up with the best options available for what you want to achieve. This can range from the creation of a new mobile website by a design team, to the use of plugins on your existing CMS (Content Management System) to generate a mobile version of your site. Your needs will dictate which option is best for your company.
Optimize Your Mobile Site
Optimizing your mobile site is not unlike optimizing your full website, with the same SEO goals in mind – having the site show up in the search engines. Depending on what your mobile website takes, you can customize Page Titles, Meta Descriptions, and even content. This can allow you to target your optimization to mobile users and devices, especially if your Google Analytics shows that most of your mobile searches are coming from a particular type or brand of device.
The other part of optimizing your mobile website is keeping in mind that the devices that will be finding the website are mobile. This means that while you’ll want to keep the branding the same on both of your sites, things like text input boxes, images, and Flash should be limited or completely removed from the mobile site, as mobile devices are less suited to these as compared to a full computer.
In contrast, the addition of a button to call your location or bring up directions to your storefront might not be something you include on your regular site, but are key additions on a mobile site that’s accessed by a smartphone that can easily call from within the site or turn into a GPS and bring the user to you.
The Future of Search?
There’s no denying that mobile search is a growing segment of the internet, and that having a mobile site in some capacity is becoming a necessity more so than a luxury. There are a number of statistics out there about the number of smartphones, mobile searches, and the like, but I happen to like this infographic from Microsoft, detailing the rise of mobile search:
As you can see, they project that mobile internet usage will outstrip desktop use by 2014 – that’s a little over a year away.
You and your company can no longer afford to ignore mobile. Setting yourself and your company up for mobile searches is critical to staying ahead of the curve in the world of search. Not only do you need to pay attention to your mobile website, you need to consider SEO ramifications as well. For some of our clients, fully 30% of traffic now comes from mobile. How much of your traffic is coming from mobile and what are you doing to optimize for it and convert it?