When any business starts this adventure we call “marketing”, they have to cover the basics before doing anything else.
They need to define:
- Who is my target audience?
- What is their pain?
- How do I solve that pain?
But once you’ve established who your audience is and how you can help, you then need to determine how to effectively deliver your messaging to that target audience. And then to optimize that messaging so it’s found in search.
Fast forward to today, and you have a business website that you’re proud of. It does everything you need it to – and more. Your analytics tell you that you’re receiving a healthy dose of visitors daily and that you’re also successfully converting a good portion of them.
But then you dig a little deeper…
Your mobile search results aren’t that great, right? You notice that the people who find your site via mobile search seem to be more interested in your brand (since they spend more time on it), but there’s a whole lot less of them than desktop users. Or it may be that you have a lot of them, but they quickly bounce off your site after a single page view.
What’s going on here?
Despite the fact that the number of mobile searches has surpassed desktop searches these days, it can be difficult to win the mobile search marketing game if it’s not done with the utmost of care.
I’ll tackle some of the obstacles marketers face with mobile search and how you can optimize your website to beat the odds.
Understanding the Mobile User Experience
Do you want to know the secret to increasing your visitor count – and, ultimately, conversions – on mobile? Here it is:
The key to mobile search marketing is landing your website on that first page of Google search results.
While you may think that’s simple enough, think again. The experience of conducting a search on the world wide web from a smartphone is much different than the one you have on desktop. Let me show you.
This is a search for “where to buy winter boots” on a Mac:
This is a search for “where to buy winter boots” on an iPhone.
There are a lot of paid ads taking up prime real estate in search – and those paid efforts make it even more difficult for marketers to reach their audience through mobile search.
See how it took four scrolls through the smartphone in order to see the top five organic search results? That’s a lot of energy to expend just to find a relevant search result that isn’t a paid post.
It’s evident that the experience of search is much different between desktop and mobile. The differences don’t just stop there.
Think about why someone would use a mobile phone to conduct a search versus on a desktop. Are they on the go? Are they using it as a second screen? Were they referred to your site from a coupon they received via email?
Then think about how mobile users interact with your website versus if they were to visit it on desktop. Are there certain pieces of information they may want to find right away (like a phone number or address)? Do beautiful, high-resolution images that look great when viewed on desktop distract from the content on mobile? Are the calls-to-action big enough to read, find, or click?
Similar to the scenario played out above, brevity and convenience are important considerations to make when planning out a site for mobile. That’s not to say you have to build a separate mobile website or even an app, but it does mean that responsive design is simply not enough anymore.
Tips for mobile search marketing success
While it would be great to consolidate our search marketing efforts between desktop and mobile into a single pipeline, it’s clear that different devices call for different experiences.
As someone looking to successfully market their business, you need to know how to do this for desktop, mobile, and to strike a balance between the two.
The following tips will guide you through the essentials for mobile search marketing optimization.
1. Find the right keywords for mobile
What are the chances someone will type out a long search term on their mobile device? Probably not very likely. But that doesn’t mean they won’t receive a long-tail keyword recommendation from Google that fits the bill. If you’re not sure what mobile device users are searching for on mobile, check your analytics and then use a keyword rank checker to see how well you’re doing against your target keywords.
Remember: if you can’t rank in the top-half of that first search results page, it’s going to be very difficult to be found by mobile users.
2. Focus on your SERP listing
Whether it’s for mobile or desktop, your SERP listing matters a lot. Let’s take a look at those snow boots again.
This is how Dick’s Sporting Goods appears in a desktop search:
This is how Dick’s appears in mobile search:
This might not matter for Dick’s since it’s a well-known brand, but you can see that part of the description for their SERP listing is cut off. Now, if they had pertinent information in there that was essential to selling mobile users on their product or service, this would be a fail. For those of you who don’t have the luxury of a name synonymous with your product offering, you’ll have to be more careful.
Always be cognizant of the limited space you have on mobile to educate and elicit a reaction from your audience.
3. Make it location specific
If you can optimize your website based on a specific location, do it. Mobile users looking for local results will be more likely to go straight to Google’s local business map at the top of their results if it means one less website they have to click through. (And it’s also a great way to get around that first-page-ranking conundrum.)
To do this, be sure to list your site with Google My Business and add a map to your site.
4. Put Google on speed dial
Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test, that is. If you’re going to trust anyone’s opinion on your website’s mobile-friendliness, Google is it. Run your site through this tool regularly and be sure to keep up with their standards.
5. Don’t depend on responsive
Don’t get me wrong. Responsive design is a must. But just because your website shifts and resizes and works with your visitors’ chosen device, that doesn’t mean your site is optimized for mobile.
Think about the small amount of real estate you have to work with. Large images on your site may be unnecessary or too cumbersome for mobile viewing. Your content may be too wordy and get in the way of letting visitors find the information that matters most to them. If you’re working with a truly responsive website theme, you should be able to designate which elements of your site can be viewed based on user device.
Here’s an example of how Elegant Themes’ builder handles this:
6. Make everything easier
In general, if you want mobile users to give your site a warm reception, and Google to in turn reward you for it, you’ve got to make everything easier and shorter. Mobile users want to spend less time hunting around for information and expect instant feedback. You can help by:
- Including an omnipresent search bar
- Removing multiple levels in the site navigation
- Putting links to the most popular information front and center (e.g. phone number, hours of operation, etc.)
- Making forms shorter
Whatever elements of your site are the most important to visitors – and you should be able to tell this from analytics – is what you will need to streamline, shorten, and/or prioritize on mobile.
7. Focus on touch
Mobile users don’t have the convenience of a mouse pad or big keyboard to navigate their way around your site. Focus on how you can improve the touch experience for them. Bigger buttons. Shorter forms. Click to call (or email). And so on.
8. Optimize for speed
Page speed plays a very important role in Google’s search algorithms – both for desktop and mobile. Realistically, a mobile site that takes longer than a few seconds to load isn’t going to be well-received. So be sure to pay attention to the suggestions you receive from Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test (which is merging with its PageSpeed Insights Tool).
9. Pay to play
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with putting a little money behind your mobile search marketing efforts. You won’t be alone. eMarketer predicts that nearly $50 billion will be spent on mobile ads in 2017.
If you’re not seeing the mobile search results you want – and you have an audience for it, if only they could find you – find a way to get your search result as close to the top of the page as possible. Start with local optimization. If that doesn’t help, then you can always pay to play.
10. Remember your core ranking efforts
No matter how much effort you put into getting mobile search right, never forget to keep your site optimized for general search. This means creating relevant content, establishing authority, and providing value.
So, what can we take away from all of this?
Is there a difference between mobile and desktop search marketing? Yes.
Does it really matter? Yes. Though the level of importance may depend on your business type and target audience demographic.
Do you need to bother with this? Definitely, yes!
In sum, today’s marketing strategy requires a multi-channel approach. Desktop, mobile, apps (if you’ve got them) all need to be treated differently because the experience your user has on them – and the reason why they engage with them – differ greatly.
If desktop search marketing is our baseline, this guide aims to take your efforts to the next level with targeted mobile marketing.
Guest Author: Nathan Oulman writes about SEO, Marketing and Webhosting. He operates Dailyhosting.net which focuses on Web Hosting tools.