Thursday, April 24, 2014

Don't Lose Sales: Optimize Your Website for Mobile Search Now!

Mobile search is big, and it's only getting bigger. Just take a look at the numbers. As WebProNews recently reported, "Google is said to pay over a billion a year to Apple" to be the default search engine for the iPhone.

The same post reports that Yahoo is trying to convince Apple to change search allegiances. To procure this business, Yahoo and Apple might be talking a deal that far exceeds the billion now paid by Google. That's a lot of moolah, even for Yahoo. Yet Yahoo's efforts seem justified by the numbers, especially for the tech savvy. As Yahoo itself reports:

"Mobile tech shoppers are active searchers: Our data shows an 89% jump in mobile search queries related to tech and telecom on the Yahoo Bing network since last year."

As the major tech companies bet big on mobile search, the SEO world is scrambling to optimize sites for the new mobile experience. There's a lot of debate about the best way to optimize for the new mobile experience, but one thing is clear: the new search paradigm will effect sites large and small--from Yahoo to your local barber shop.

The implications for local businesses cannot be overstated. Yahoo's certainly thinking local in its bid to become the iPhone's new search engine go-to. Again, from WebProNews:

"Yahoo has also recently switched over to Yelp listings for its local search reviews, which could sit better with Apple than Yahoo’s previous offering...Local search is, of course, very important to the mobile experience."

Just think about the way you use your mobile as you go about your daily tasks. Almost like a second brain, right? Your mobile probably helps orient you with your day-to-day activities, and more mobile browsers are using search to discover products and services in the moment.

A simple example illustrates the point. A few weeks ago, I set out from a friend's apartment in Brooklyn in search of a spring jacket. Stepping onto 8th Avenue, I performed a Google search on my iPhone for "spring jacket." Among the top results, I visited two sites: one clearly optimized for mobile, Brooklyn Industries, and one one clearly not optimized for mobile, The Brooklyn Circus.

The difference between these two sites reveals a lot about mobile website optimization. We strongly suggest performing a mobile search--"spring jacket Brooklyn"--for both. Note the key differences between the two sites, and then ask yourself: is my site closer to Brooklyn Industries (optimized) or The Brooklyn Circus (not-optimized)?

Brooklyn Industries mobile interface is seamless, easy-to-read and easy-to-use, with large pictures of each item and helpful drop-down menus for sorting items by category.

The Brooklyn Circus mobile interface, on the other hand, is essentially the traditional site shrunken to mobile size. The pictures are small and the text is impossible to read without zooming in. Worse, when you zoom in, you lose focus of the rest of the site!

Needless to say, I performed my search for a spring jacket on Brooklyn Industries, and easily discovered exactly what I was looking for: a water-resistant rain coat. Within ten minutes, I was trying the jacket on at the local shop. I ended up buying the jacket--and another jacket for my wife.

My new spring jacket

This is SEO in action. Brooklyn Industries appeared at the top of my mobile search results, and because its interface was easy-to-use, I was easily "converted" into a customer. Enticed by one mobile site--and repelled by another--I purchased two spring jackets.

My experience might be unique, but as mobile search grows, it is clear that the sites that do not optimize for mobile will lose sales. Worse, this loss will not simply be regulated to my in-the-moment purchase. My opinion of the The Brooklyn Circus brand is now entirely defined by my poor mobile experience. In the future, when I search for clothes, on the road or at home, I will be much more likely to seek out Brooklyn Industries.

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 to astute wisdom of a professional search engine optimization professional. From now until May 30, our sponsor, Stepmans PC, is offering a free mobile website audit. Contact Stepmans PC today to learn how you can improve your website's mobile performance: 215-900-9398.