The Mobile Web and SEO

I recently came across an interesting Forbes article about the growth in mobile internet usage and the change it’s causing in the marketing landscape. According to the Forbes article, mobile internet usage is set to overtake desktop Internet usage by 2014, and the way people use their mobile devices to browse is now very different.

Here are just a handful of ways Internet (and search) usage is likely to change:

  • Using mobile phones to type-search. Using a traditional keyboard to enter a search query into Google is usually easier and quicker than doing the same on a mobile device. It is highly likely therefore that users will search for shorter keyword strings, or rely more heavily on tools such as predictive text. This will influence the way sites optimize their content and carry out their link building.
  • Voice search. In contrast to the point above, there has been a rise in popularity of using voice search on mobile devices via Google or Yahoo search apps, or Apple iPhone’s Siri for example. This may make searching quicker and easier, but it should be noted that people tend to search differently when speaking, using more of a conversional sentence structure. For example, you may type-search “best netbooks”, but voice-search “what are the best netbooks available.” This is likely to influence a site’s keyword targeting.
  • Search by image. Tools such as Google Goggles allow users to very quickly search the Web using images on their phone or photos taken on the fly. Applications of this technology include taking a picture of a book in a store to find the best price, or using the picture of a restaurant front to find customer reviews. Ensuring your content and imagery are optimized for this form of search is likely to become increasingly important.
  • Industry trends. As mobile Internet data shows, uptake levels are not necessarily equal across all industries. Travel, for example, is one area where growth in mobile Internet (and search) is increasing at pace, and is therefore likely to be a strong focus for this market moving forwards.
  • Sociability.  91% of mobile Internet access is to socialize, compared to 79% on desktops. If Internet marketers haven’t been listening to the “search turning social” talk of recent years, then they certainly should be now. If they still cannot engage with individuals and groups on a social level they will be missing out on a massive proportion of mobile Internet usage.
  • Geo-targeting. As well as a number of apps utilizing a user’s geo-location to enhance their functionality, Google uses it to show localized search results. Mobile devices tend to be used in multiple locations, therefore search results are highly likely to fluctuate more on mobile devices. Making sure your website’s “local” offering is up to speed should be towards the top of your priority list.
  • Immediacy. At the recent World Travel Market in London, a Google spokesperson revealed stats from ebooker.com saying that 70% of mobile hotel bookings were same-day check in. They also showed stats from easyJet  stating 38% of mobile bookings were for flights departing within 10 days, compared to only 13% from desktops. This clearly shows a more immediate-requirement trend in mobile usage, for travel market at least, and this certainly might influence the kinds of content/offers that sites show to their mobile visitors. This is a good example of how users, whether using their mobile phone for personal or business purposes, want immediate, easy-to-find information.

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