Optimizing for the mobile world

March 14, 2012

Just when you thought things were settling down on the Internet front, the playing field has changed again. Not long ago all you had to do was to create a website, find a hosting company, make a few changes here and there, and you were “good to go.” Well, times have changed.

A strong online presence is crucial to your business, especially for retailers, and now more than ever.

In addition to the constant upkeep of your website, you currently also have to worry about search engine optimization (SEO). In other words, you must make sure “what’s under the website” is satisfactory to search engine robots so that your site will be found and ranked as high as possible. These robots continuously crawl through websites and log them into databases. They do this crawling so that when someone types a term like “Tire Dealer” into a search engine like Google, a list of appropriate websites to go visit is displayed.

Search engines naturally want the most relevant sites to be listed first. Your objective is to get your company website ranked as high as possible. This way, people searching for your type of business will find you.

There are many tricks of the trade to help you in this quest. My suggestion is simple; leave it to the experts. The tricks of the trade keep changing and what works today may not be beneficial tomorrow.

Mobile searches will surpass PC searches

Now, you might be wondering why times have changed. Did you know that more Internet searches will be performed in 2012 on mobile devices than on PCs?

Stop and think about what that means; it means that more people will be looking for your website on smartphones, Apple iPads and tablets than on PCs. With the proliferation of smartphones and other mobile devices, this should come as no surprise. Don’t expect this trend to slow down either; I fully anticipate that it will continue to rise.

So what is the big deal if you already have a website, right? Wrong! Is your website optimized for mobile devices? Most likely, it isn’t.

What does it mean to be optimized for a mobile device? The answer is simple; the real estate for a website is much smaller on a mobile device than on a PC screen, and to be optimized for a smaller screen you need to maximize that real estate.

What might display nicely on a PC screen often doesn’t cut it on a mobile device.

The last thing you want a user to experience is a screen that can’t be viewed on their preferred device without a lot of tricky navigation. If your website is not optimized for a mobile device, you can be sure that in a matter of seconds users will leave your site and find a competitor’s site that gives them what they are looking for.

To make matters worse, all mobile devices are not created equal. This means that there are different optimization techniques needed for each type of phone or device that will view your website — such as Apple iPhones, iPads, tablets, Droids and Razors.


Put yourself in the mobile user’s shoes

When you create a website that is optimized for a mobile device, you need to think about your target user and about the crucial things that they might be searching for. Don’t include the “frills” that only make sense for a website designed for a PC.

For example, it might be nice to show pictures of your store, work staff and company events on your full website, but it doesn’t make sense to try and squeeze them onto a mobile footprint. Follow the “KISS” (we’ll call it Keep It Simple, Silly) method when designing your mobile site.

Some obvious things to include are your address with a link to a mapping site, your phone number with click-to-call technology, the ability to set up an appointment, and a few other key features. Don’t over-engineer it; learn from what is out there and design your mobile website with a “function over form” mentality.

Visit other sites from your own mobile devices and see what they have done right. And keep in mind that SEO is also different for mobile search engines.

Here again, there are tricks of the trade specific to mobile websites that the search engine robots look for when ranking sites. Always remember that what might work on a regular website, won’t necessarily work for ranking on mobile sites.

The facts...

In case you are not convinced that you need to pay attention to mobile web-optimization, let me share a few statistics about mobile websites.

• 57% of mobile users would not recommend a business with a bad mobile website.

• 40% of mobile users turn to a competitor’s website after a bad mobile experience.

• 61% of mobile users call the business after searching.

• 59% of mobile users will visit the business after searching.

• 90% of mobile users will act within 24 hours.

• 50% of mobile device searches turn into sales.

These are just a few of the compelling reasons you need to optimize your website for mobile devices — or say goodbye to many mobile users and sales.

It is not difficult or expensive to optimize for the mobile world. To do it right you need to turn to an expert. This can be complex to try and solve on your own.

But, a really neat thing about mobile websites is they can be developed quite economically — and often have a high return on investment. If you want advice on improving your online domination or where to find the experts, give me a call.

I wish you the best in mobile optimization! In my next article, we will explore the world of social media and how to take control of your social branding to boost your profits. 

As CEO and president of WECnology LLC (see website www.wecnology,com), Wayne Croswell is a “complimentary technology advisor” for independent tire dealers. Croswell can be reached at [email protected] or (603) 249-5530.