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How to Optimize your Site and its Local Listings for Mobile Use

Author:
Google Mobile Search April Fool

Photo Credit: Mac Morrison

Imagine your average Joe Schmoe. Joe is driving to work, and he realizes that he wants some donuts. He doesn’t want the drugstore kind, though; he wants to get donuts without getting out of his car.

Until recently, Joe would have to rack his brain to remember the nearest drive-through donut place. Chances are that he doesn’t have any donut coupons with him, and he may not even remember how to get to the place he’s thinking of. In today’s technology-centered culture, however, Joe’s donut finding experience is a lot simpler. He just pulls out his smart phone and searches for “Donuts.” Within seconds, his phone pulls up three options, all within five miles of his location. The first option has four stars, it’s a drive-through, and it offers a 25% off coupon offer for an order of jelly donuts.

Joe clicks on that result, and he’s able to see the company’s list of donuts. He taps their phone number to call them, and he places an order with an employee so that it’s ready by the time he gets there. When he hangs up, his GPS-enabled phone guides him to the store, and he’s able to get his donuts without being late for work.

This all happens in less than 10 minutes. Joe doesn’t have to remember where he’s seen donut ads, where donuts stores are, or how to get to the few donut stores he remembers. He doesn’t bother asking friends, and he doesn’t need to worry about remembering recommendations. He lets his phone do the work, right up to telling him where to turn. Considering how simple this process is, it’s no surprise that mobile local searches are taking over in the search world. Mobile search is fast. It’s easy. And anyone with a smart phone can do it.

Experts predict that by 2014, internet browsing done with mobile devices will outnumber internet browsing done with PCs. Even right now, more than half of all local searches done are done on a mobile device with internet capabilities. That’s big.

Considering the huge number of searches being done on mobile devices, businesses can’t afford not to optimize their site and their content for mobile searches. It may not be 2014 yet, but getting yourself optimized for mobile local searches and mobile applications can put you way ahead of the curve.

So how do you optimize your content for mobile searches?

Optimizing your Listing

Most mobile searches use Google Places to provide listings of businesses near the searcher’s current location. Just as a normal Google search provides only so many listings per page, a mobile search will provide the searcher with a limited number of local businesses from which to choose. That being said, it’s possible that the searcher will never even see your business unless you optimize your listing.

Both Google and mobile searchers value listings with a lot of information. If you’re a mobile searcher, you are more likely to select a business with a lot of positive user ratings over a business with just a couple of reviews. Depending on your situation, you may opt to favor a business that lists their store hours over a business that doesn’t list this information. Google understands that businesses with a great deal of information and positive user feedback are more likely to be useful to searchers, so Google lists those businesses higher on mobile searches.

In short, the best way to optimize your mobile listing is to provide as much information as possible. Make sure that your business is listed on Google Maps, as many mobile applications use this tool to find relevant results for the searcher. Provide your address, site information, store hours, and phone number. In a mobile search, the mobile search application may create easy-to-use buttons with this information, allowing the searcher to call you with just a click. The easier it is for the searcher to find relevant information and contact details for your business, the more likely it is that they will choose to patronize your business.

Positive user reviews are vital to creating a healthy, optimized mobile listing. If a searcher is on the fence about selecting your business, having even one positive review can tip the scale in your favor. You may want to ask current customers to leave good reviews and comments on your listing. You may even want to include the positive testimonies of former clients. Just make sure that your positive comments and reviews are genuine. Google and other search engines can tell if you are creating spammy, disingenuous reviews for yourself. This practice could hurt more than it helps, and it may even get your site de-indexed altogether.

Finally, remember that some mobile search applications bypass Google and other search engines by using specialized directory listings. Proactively submitting your business to relevant directories whenever possible will ensure that your business is listed in these and other mobile “answer engines.”

Optimizing Your Site for Viewers

Mobile searchers are less attentive than desktop searchers. Their focus is usually divided between their search and the other things they happen to be doing—shopping, talking, running, babysitting, driving. It’s crucial that your site be easy for a mobile searcher to read, navigate, and understand. Google has recently come out with a set of guidelines and recommendations that serve as a great guide for content writers and webmasters who are trying to make their sites more mobile-friendly. To convert searchers into customers, however, you should also consider the overall impression of your listing and your site.

Here are a couple of guiding principles that will help convert customers:

1. Offer coupons, promotions, and deals on the landing page of your site. When using a mobile device, searchers are more likely to select a company that will give them a bargain. In fact, studies show that customers are ten times more likely to redeem mobile coupons than traditional printed coupons.

 

2. Make sure that your site’s font is legible and visible (no grey text on black background). Making sure that viewers can access important information as quickly as possible will help to ensure that your customers follow through and buy, rather than simply giving up and going elsewhere.

 

3. Get to the point. Make sure that your customers see the most relevant information first. What questions do you get most often? Make sure that the answers are displayed prominently on your mobile site.

 

4. Format your site so that it is easily navigated. A lot of mobile devices have small, touch-sensitive screens. Make sure that links and buttons are easy to tap, as this will drastically improve your visitors’ experience and increase the possibility that visitors convert into customers.

 

For more info, check out Angie Schottmuller’s great SEO advice on other ways to streamline your mobile site.

Mobile marketing is already a huge, multi-million dollar industry, and it’s only getting bigger. Getting on board with and optimizing for this growing trend will help to secure your local business’ success not only now, but in the future as well!

What do you think about mobile optimization? What mobile optimization techniques have been effective for you?

 


Feedback

3
  • Mike

    Elementary my dear Courtenay!

    • Courtenay Stevens

      You’re totally right, Mike! This is all pretty basic information, yet you’d be surprised how many people don’t understand the importance of optimizing their sites and their content for mobile search.

      • Amber Avines

        Courtenay, you’re so right. It might be basic, but people are missing the boat on basic. Especially since even thinking about mobile is new to most companies. It’s an important reminder to everyone and good tips to remember. We’re a loooooong way from mastering mobile in the business world.

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