Friday, November 16, 2018

SEO 101: Mobile Optimization for Black Friday & Cyber Monday

The post-Thanksgiving shopping weekend, which begins with Black Friday and ends with Cyber Monday, is a cultural touchstone for many Americans--a furious spending spree with an ever-increasing emphasis on online shopping.

Last year, both Black Friday and Cyber Monday shattered online sales records from the previous year. Both days saw a roughly 17% percent increase, to $5.03 billion and $6.59 billion, respectively.

In between the two, Small Business Saturday, a day seemingly devoted to local brick-and-mortar shops, netted $5.12 billion in online sales, a 10% increase from the previous year (Source). Surprising? If you consider the savvy of today's omnishopper, this statistic is not at all surprising.

The term omnishopper initially referred to consumers who researched products online before shopping in brick-and-mortar stores. Recently, however, the meaning has evolved: As the name implies, an omnishopper is an omnivorous shopper, who uses any resource, online or offline, to make an informed decision.

Read: "SEO, ORM, & Today's Omnishopper"

Alex Stepman, the founder of Stepman's SEO (our blog's sponsor), calls this shift a "new paradigm":

"Imagine millions of these highly-informed, deal-hunting omnishoppers populating stores--online and offline This is the new paradigm."

In the the wake of last year's Black Friday-Cyber Monday extravaganza, CNBC quoted Mickey Mericle, vice president of Adobe's Marketing and Insights, who placed the emphasis on mobile browsing:

"People are really figuring out how to use their mobile devices," she said. "And retailers are figuring out how to optimize ... for mobile. We're seeing the two come together."

Another way to say this, simply, is that shoppers no longer distinguish between online and offline shopping. Today's shopper hunts for the best product at the best price, and is willing to purchase from any business, online or offline. While increasing competition, this new paradigm also offers smaller businesses tremendous opportunities. The key, of course, is optimizing your brand's online presence to benefit both online and offline sale--and increasingly this means optimizing for mobile.

So how do you optimize mobile for specific shopping days, like Black Friday or Cyber Monday?

In reality, any article about this topic will offer similar advice, yet not many admit an essential truth: A good mobile optimization will help you succeed on any given day of the year. With this truth in mind, however, we offer the following mobile-specific optimization techniques for Black Friday and Cyber Monday--and beyond.

"Imagine millions of these highly-informed, deal-hunting omnishoppers populating stores--online and offline
This is the new paradigm." - Alex Stepman
Mobile Optimization for Black Friday & Cyber Monday--and Beyond

There's little doubt that this year's Cyber Monday sales will break last year's record, and mobile will certainly play an even larger role. So now is a good time to revisit your mobile SEO strategy.

Earlier in 2018, Smart Insights posted a Mobile Marketing Statistics Compilation, which proved the point: "Mobile digital media time in the US is now significantly higher at 51% compared to desktop (42%)."

Fortunately, taking advantage of this shift is quite simple.

First, Make Sure Your Site is Mobile-Friendly

This is the all-important first step to mobile optimization: you must assure your site is "mobile-friendly," a designation Google has used as a "ranking signal" since at least 2015.

Is your site mobile-friendly? Hopefully, you answer affirmatively. If you're not sure, you can take Google's "Mobile-Friendly Test" here.

Alternately, you might also Google your website name from a mobile phone. The basic goal, as Google notes, is to make your "viewable on a modern device."

A "viewable", mobile-friendly site is easy to access and read on any device. On the other hand, a not-so-mobile-friendly website will repel the user with the hassle of pinching and zooming a page to find what you need. Stunningly, many local websites have not yet optimized for this essential feature.

Second, Optimize for Speed

Early this year, in January, Google announced an algorithm update for mobile search: "The Speed Update."

"People want to...find answers to their questions as fast as possible," Google wrote. "Although speed has been used in ranking for some time, that signal was focused on desktop searches. Today we’re announcing that starting in July 2018, page speed will be a ranking factor for mobile searches."

Although this new ranking factor only effected mobile pages with the slowest user experience--a small percentage of all queries--it was a reminder for all mobile websites: Speed is crucial.

"The average time it takes to fully load a mobile landing page is 22 seconds," writes Daniel An, for Google. "Yet 53% of visits are abandoned if a mobile site takes longer than three seconds to load."

So that's it: to catch the attention of today's omnishopper, three seconds may be the difference between success or failure. If your mobile site is slow, optimizing page speed can make the difference between a click and a bounce.

Read: "Optimize Page Speed for Mobile Search: Three Tips"

Third, Build A Mobile App

Of the total time spent on mobile phones, trecent stats (from 2017) show that "among mobile...users, mobile apps will account for 84.9% of total mobile time spent, with mobile web browsing making up the remainder" (Source).

Mobile apps offer tremendous opportunities for brands, especially small, local businesses who can use location-specific searches to attract local customers. In the context of the omnishopper, apps offer yet another tool to discover the best product at the best price. An app can help you position your product as the best possible option.

Do you have a mobile app? If not, you may be behind the curve.

Read: "Mobile App SEO"

Need Mobile SEO Help? Call Stepman's SEO!

The omnishopper represents a new paradigm: On shopping days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, shoppers use every tool at their disposal to find the best products online and offline. Increasingly, the most important tool is the smart phone.

If you sell a high-quality product that deserves customers, you also deserve a well-optimized mobile website.

Do not let the changing search landscape compromise your sales. Now, more than ever, you need the astute wisdom of a professional SEO who understands mobile optimization. Contact Stepman's SEO today to learn how you can improve your mobile performance: 215-900-9398.