Mobile Search - Today, Tomorrow

5/25/2011

- Mike Siers - Client Strategist

You’re no doubt aware that mobile search is growing rapidly, and, in fact, is catching up to desktop search. Mobile devices are becoming a primary means for people to access the internet and subsequently search. This makes the optimization of your website for mobile traffic very important.

By the end of 2011, it is estimated that roughly one billion people around the world will be connected to the mobile web and 50% of Americans will own a smart phone. Because of this growth, searches on smart phones and tablets have increased nearly 4-times in the last year. It is safe to say this will only continue in the coming months and years. *Source: http://goo.gl/0wmpD

For people everywhere, the mobile era has begun. The question now is the adoption rate for businesses. Granted there are not many tools, yet for measuring ROI for mobile search, and with most businesses still rightly focusing their marketing attention toward desktop SEO efforts, the market is not yet demanding these tools. Nevertheless, the opportunity is wide open for your business to take advantage of the growing trend in mobile search.

As it is, Google owns the largest share of spend in mobile paid search at 97%. Bing/Yahoo come in second with 3.2-percent of spend respectively. Even Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman & former CEO of Google, said that mobile search is growing “faster than expected” and surpassing all the company’s internal projections. On average, mobile search queries represent roughly 15 percent of all search volume across categories, according to Google. *Source: http://goo.gl/ykIqU

For marketers who want to become more visible to mobile users, there are a few areas to focus on:

- Content is still king. Optimizing your site goes beyond simply having smaller versions of your pages. Having a mobile-optimized site means having optimized content. It also means that the content is clear and presents value to the viewer.

- Avoid long tail keyword phrases. Mobile searchers are dealing with limited space when typing in their queries. A majority are going to use Google Suggest.

- Direct focus to Google Places. Because the mobile search feature works in conjunction with a user's location, local results are more likely to show up higher, so optimizing your Google Places listing is important.

- Optimize products for mobile search. Many mobile searches will happen when users are considering products to purchase. Mobile visitors could be in a store with a product in-hand, ready to purchase, but decide to do one last search to see if they can find a better price online.

Now on a more technical side, here are a few areas to focus on:

- The Googlebot. Google has two types of web crawlers: Googlebot and Googlebot-Mobile. As one may assume, the Googlebot crawls desktop websites, and the Googlebot-Mobile crawls mobile content. For smartphones, such as iPhones, you should still focus on the traditional Googlebot, so no issues there – at least not at the current time. However, for more traditional phones this is where you want to be sure to add content and a user-agent string that is compatible with the Googlebot-Mobile. Here is a list of user-agent strings readable by Google crawlers.

- Sitemaps Still Apply. Because there is a Googlebot-Mobile, there still needs to be a sitemap. (In this case, a mobile sitemap). You want ensure that your mobile sitemap only contains the pages that are on the mobile version of your website. Here is additional research on Google Webmaster Sitemaps.

Mobile use is undoubtedly the next stage of internet expansion. The numbers do not lie. Spending for mobile search is up and mobile users are steadily increasing. Businesses that recognize and act now, will have an advantage in terms of investment and exposure in organic search.

This "new frontier" makes it an exciting time (once again) for the internet and the potential that awaits us all. Who knows, perhaps a mobile site will one day produce better results for business than a desktop version. One thing seems almost certain: Where there is internet browsing, there is internet searching. The question is has your business optimized for it?

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