Steps to Begin Optimizing Websites for Mobile Devices

It’s no coincidence that mobile apps have surpassed PCs as the leading way Americans access the web since tablet sales are also skyrocketing with technology, which is making it easier to connect with people and content.

For marketers, keeping up with this rapid pace of innovation is challenging, to say the least. If your team is overwhelmed with the thought of investing time and capital into optimizing a website in this new mobile landscape, we’ve got these five steps to help you get started:

1.) Understand Mobile Search Trends

As of January 2014, 58 percent of American adults owned a smartphone and 42 percent had a tablet. Purchases of these devices continue to trend upward, while PC sales are plummeting.

Some perspective: The PC is far from dead, and it remains a critical way to view content. More people use PCs than mobile devices to conduct local searches. That’s because PCs still offer greater usability and access to information for local searches. But things are rapidly changing as mobile sites utilize GPS and other mobile technology in powerful ways that direct consumers to brands.

Research already shows that consumers are more likely to make a purchase when searching on mobile devices instead of PCs. A study by Neustar Localeze and 15 Miles found 80 percent of local searches on mobile devices resulted in purchases, with 90 percent in-store.

The inherent tendency to convert sales via mobile alone demonstrates the critical need of all businesses to optimize a website for mobile and develop an app to help customers quickly get the information they need to make a purchase.

2.) Convert Websites with Mobile Utilities

Converting your long-standing website to a mobile platform may seem daunting, but there are plenty of cost-effective options to get you in the game before the corporate bureaucracy can steer a ship into that long-term strategy. Consider services such as MobiSiteGalore, Mofuse, ConvertWebsite or Mobify.

These utilities can help you build a mobile site for as low as $8 a month. While this may not be the best long-term solution, the mobile conversion service can help your marketing and web teams to understand how to get into the game.

3.) Harness Mobile for Technological Advantages

Mobile devices have features you won’t find on a PC, which means you can build a “mobile optimized” site that helps customers find your store and deals via mobile cameras, GPS, and voice controls.

While a desktop website may offer a ZIP code search option for customers, a mobile site should be optimized with mobile mapping or GPS search so anyone using their mobile device can find your business during a quick search.

Click-to-call is another essential feature, allowing smartphone users to dial a phone number after clicking on the mobile site.

According to a Google study, 67 percent of people are more likely to make a purchase from a mobile-friendly site, which should take advantage of the above features. Some 61 percent of users said they will quickly go to a competitor’s site if they can’t find useful information on a mobile site.

4.) Know How Mobile SEO Works

As consumers turn to phones and tablets for search, mobile stands to be become the dominant way that searches will be indexed and crawled on Google.

If your mobile site lacks responsive design elements with useful information, consumers will seek brands that can meet their information needs.

Google recommends responsive design because it allows for a single URL for both desktop and mobile platforms. That one URL allows Google to crawl your page once and it allows for optimized indexing.

It’s also important that you avoid some common mistakes on smartphone-optimized sites. This can include linking to videos that are not playable due to software/device incompatibility. Smartphone-only 404s can occur when sites that serve content to a PC show an error message. Also avoid irrelevant cross-linking errors, which can happen when a smartphone’s pages are linked to a PC site.

5.) Develop an App

Finally, it’s time to consider having your own app that can give you and your customers a direct link. Research by Adobe shows that tablet and smartphone users spend four and three times more time, respectively, on app sessions than mobile websites.

This also allows the customer to buy directly from you rather than having to dig through the web, which could send them to another site. The percent of people who shop online via their mobile device was over 51 percent in 2013 and is expected to be over 61 percent for 2014.

By giving your customers an app to download, the ease and convenience for them to shop your site will weigh heavily in your favor when it comes time for them to make purchases.

This all may sound like a lot of work but with the way mobile devices are owning the web game, it is a must. By becoming mobile optimized you can only help your business grow and then, simply by following marketing trends, you can adapt and tweak this optimization to fit your marketing needs.

Written by Jerrime Castle

Recently working as a free-lance journalist covering video game news and reviews, Jerrime Castle is currently interning on esd’s Content Development team. With degrees from the University of Washington in Creative Writing and ITT Technical Institute in Visual Communications, Jerrime possess a wide range of both creative and technical knowledge. 

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