The UK is fast becoming a hub for everything mobile. Meanwhile, global internet usage from mobile devices last year was 12 times the amount of data bandwidth that was used on the internet at the turn of the Millennium.
Although many Briton’s are using smartphones and tablets both at home and in the workplace it appears small businesses are still failing to see the value of mobile for business. Following a recent Email Marketing Census from eConsultancy, more than a third (39 per cent) of small business owners admitted to having no strategy in place for mobile optimisation.
However, with smartphone owners frequently using their devices to check email, text, interact via social networks and peruse the mobile web, there will be missed opportunities for SMEs if they don’t begin to take advantage of this escalating trend.
At present, a large percentage of small firms will have a website online that can be used on a mobile device but has not been specifically optimised for mobile use. Responsive website designs uses alternative CSS code to rearrange elements on a page to fit different screen sizes – from laptop and PC screens to mobiles.
Another useful way of creating a mobile-friendly website, dynamic serving keeps a single URL but serves different content based on the visitor’s user agent.
After designing a mobile-ready website it’s even more important that you make sure your target customer base can find it. Responsive mobile sites work best for mobile SEO simply because you don’t need to change anything you do for your normal organic search marketing; the HTML stays the same regardless of the type of device used.
Dynamic serving is a little bit different in that you need to set a Vary HTTP – User Agent header, which will inform Google that you wish to serve different content based on a visitor’s user agent.
If you wish to rank for localised search listings it is important to consider local SEO too. With minimal screen real estate it’s more important than ever to improve localised rankings on mobile devices. Submitting to local business directory listings and having a visible, up-to-date Google+ Local page will give you a good head start. Try and get your customers to shout about you with reviews and recommendations on Google+ Local and actively build local links to your site.
Creative ways to bypass mobile SEO
It is possible to reach out to your target customer base without focusing on mobile search engine optimisation, provided you are creative and have a budget to match your ambitions. If your business model is reliant on frequent return visits, you could consider developing a mobile app to enable consumers to visit your site and its products directly without even having to use a search engine or web browser.
Whether you choose between a native app which costs more money but offers faster performance and app store support, or a web app which is much cheaper to develop and maintain but cannot be accessed offline is up to you.
Aside from visibility in mobile search listings, you need to give your customers a reason to visit you on their mobile devices. What better way than to offer them exclusive mobile content and reward them for their loyalty?
You could create QR codes for customers to scan on their devices to secure discounts and special offers, or perhaps provide users with advice articles or tips relating to your industry? The chances are it will strengthen your position in the marketplace as an authority and encourage brand loyalty.
Don’t forget emails
If you regularly send out e-shots to existing and prospective customers then it’s essential that your email templates are mobile friendly. More than three-quarters of smartphone users check their emails on their phone each day, according to email Monday’s ‘Ultimate mobile email statistics overview’, so be sure that formatting is slick and calls-to-action are clear.
Mobile usage is expected to overtake desktop usage in 2014, so now is the time to get your mobile sites ready. They are increasingly the first touch point a consumer has with your brand and it needs to be a positive experience!