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Pick up your phone and navigate to your website. How does your site look? If you find yourself squinting to see the text or scrolling left, right, up, and down to find your phone number, you’ve got a problem. Think your prospects and customers are going to tolerate that? Think again. These days, having a mobile-friendly version of your website is a nicety, it’s a necessity!
It happens all the time…
You drop five grand on a brand new website for your local business. You’ve got plain text everything, all your images are crawlable, your contact forms are designed for maximum conversions. You’ve got fantastic user interface – anyone who hits this site is going to love it. There’s just one problem. You forgot to ask your web company how your new site is going to display on mobile devices – smartphones, tablets, etc. You probably assumed they’d handle this for you, right?
This is (just one of) the problems with the online marketing industry – it’s full of new terms and nuances unfamiliar to the typical business owner or marketing executive. When Company A gives you a Statement of Work for your new custom website, it includes a “smartphone friendly design.” Company B is cheaper, but you overlook the fact that their SOW says nothing about building you a mobile website. When you hire Company B, don’t be shocked when you pull your site up on your iPhone and it looks about as userfriendly as the instruction manual that came with your washer dryer.
Who is searching for mobile sites?
A recent local search study by YP and Street Fight basically confirmed that small businesses need to have mobile sites if they want to gain a competitive edge now and maintain it later. They surveyed 1,100 US adults, finding that 40 percent of respondents used local search daily. Moreover, they found that an astounding 70 percent of smartphone owners used location-aware mobile apps – apps that would tell them about things like entertainment venues, restaurants, retail stores and transportation around them. The study defines consumers who own smartphones, tablets and PCs as “avid” local search users (those who only own a PC are called “average”), and found people search with the following frequency:
- PC only: five local searches a week
- PC + smartphone: 13.5 local searched per week
- PC + smartphone + tablet: over 21 local searches per week
Now before this gets confusing, let’s clear up a few things. The data above means that people with more devices are doing more total searches, both on their PCs and on their smartphones and tablets. And it’s true that the PC is still the dominant source of local searches across categories (for now, although the data shows that this is changing). However, it also finds that device-based local search is starting to close in on the PC market, particularly in the categories we mentioned earlier: entertainment, restaurants, retail and transportation.
The study breaks down purchasers by how many people are searching, the business category they’re looking for and type of device they’re searching on:
Look carefully at the data above. It’s clear that if you operate a transportation company or restaurant without a mobile site, you should drop what you’re doing and invest in one right away. But what if you’re a contractor? According to the chart, three times as many people search from desktop than smartphone. And PCs get five times more searches than tablets!
That may be true, but look at it this way: 39 percent of people searching for your services are using mobile devices. That means that if you don’t have a mobile website, 39 percent of your potential customers are going elsewhere. Think about the lifetime value of a single customer. Consider how many people that customer will refer you to (if you provide good service!). Now, consider the value lost if 39 percent of your potential customers sign up with your competitors.
What do my customers want from a mobile site?
Starting to get the picture? Excellent! Now, the most important thing about having a mobile site is being able to quickly give your customers exactly the information they want and not much more. And while the specific information people look for from different sites varies slightly, the data shows that the primary information people want boils down to what local SEOs have been preaching about since the dawn of time (or at least since the dawn of the Yahoo! Directory…almost as long) – Name, Address and Phone Number (NAP). If you own a retail store, restaurant or other business where customers come to you, hours of operation are also helpful.
The nice thing about mobile sites is you don’t need to do spend a bunch of time worrying about SEO. Generally speaking, you want to keep them as simple as possible – no need for pages upon pages of content or anything like that.
A plumbing company, for instance, could have four pages:
- Homepage with a brief description of your business (including your service area)
- Contact page with your name, address and phone number as well as hours of operation
- A list of your services
- A page with your current promotions
That’s all you need! You should also consider integrating a “click-to-call” or “click-to-schedule” button that lets your customers call you straight from the site without having to write down or memorize your number. Remember, the key here is simplicity – you don’t want to overwhelm searchers with so much extraneous information that they back out of your website without converting!
The search gurus at SEOMoz analyzed what makes a successful mobile site, and came up with a pretty easy to follow list:
- Small, lightweight and fast-loading site (< 20kb / page)
- XHTML Mobile 1.0 Doctype • UTF-8 character encoding
- JPEG / GIF images
- Content including “mobile”
- On-site keyphrase optimisation as usual (with a focus on short titles, and small amounts of body copy)
- Regular technical SEO principles
Don’t know what all that means? Don’t worry – you can count on a top SEO company to handle all the dirty work for you!
How do I get a mobile site?
A mobile site makes it much, much easier for your potential clients to find you on the go. And given the search trends illustrated by the latest YP and Street Fight study, customers are searching for you on the go more and more frequently! When you call Blue Corona, five days and $500 is all it takes to direct all those mobile searchers straight to you!
Contact us to learn more about getting a custom mobile site design!
About The Author: Blue Corona is a data-driven online marketing company with offices in Gaithersburg, MD and Charlotte, N.C.
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