If you want to get more customers online, then you probably know that it’s important to comply with search engine requirements about the things they want to see on your website. If you don’t follow their rules, you’ll find yourself gone from their listings. That means people aren’t going to be calling you as much. What this means for a small business owner is that you can’t just create a website and forget about it; you have to keep your website up to date with these changing requirements by search engines. Just like a house requires maintenance and upkeep over time, fixing and replacing things, painting, and regular yard maintenance, so does your website.
Over the years, the volume of online searches conducted from mobile devices has exceeded 50%, meaning that now well over half of all searches are being made primarily from smart phones. This is particularly true with online shopping specifically; if your shopping cart isn’t mobile friendly it’s estimated that you can be losing 30% of your potential sales on that item alone. But the main point here is that when people search on their phones for a local service provider, much of the time they aren’t idly cruising the web. Rather, when people use their phones to conduct a search for a local service provider, they’re usually doing so with an intent to buy. Think about that. Most of the time when people are using their phone to search for a plumber, they’re going to call one for service. If you’re a plumber and you don’t have a mobile website, you’re now letting all that traffic just pass right by you.
Back in April, Google instituted changes in their search algorithm. Whether or not you have a mobile-friendly website design is now part of how you get ranked when people search from a mobile phone. If you think about it, it makes sense. People on mobile phones would rather see a mobile-friendly site that’s easy to navigate, than one with tiny text or where they have to pinch and zoom to find their way around. This means that if your website isn’t mobile friendly, you’re going to get less calls.
If you don’t know whether or not your website design complies with the latest requirements, go to Google’s online testing tool, type in your website address, and it will tell you:
How Online Searching Has Changed
One of the factors to consider about your local marketing is the manner in which searching has changed. For example, once upon a time, you might make a search like one of these:
Pizza + Chicago
Plumbers in Seattle
However with the rise of location-detection technology, that isn’t really needed most of the time anymore. Search engines can detect where you are, and deliver results that are determined to be nearby based on your location. That assumes, of course, that your device supports location detection and that you have enabled it for your web browser.
Understanding Mobile Users
The first thing you need to do is think like a mobile user and put yourself in their shoes. One common scenario is a person doing some quick shopping, in which case they want a simple, streamlined buying process without a bunch of steps, so it’s fast and easy to buy. But for a small local business, the more important scenario is when they just had a major plumbing disaster and need someone NOW. They want to do a quick search, see top-rated professionals, and be able to do a quick tap to call. People want things to be quick and easy. If your website isn’t set up so it’s just a matter of a click or two for them to either call or contact you, they’re going to call someone else. If you’re a restaurant, your exact location with a map link and your menu should be easy to use. (Tip for restaurants: Include pricing on your online menu, and allow online ordering for pickup customers.)
With over a billion people now browsing the Internet from a mobile device, the simple fact of having a mobile website means you should see an increase in traffic. Conversely, not having one means your traffic will go down.
This is the first article in a series. Next time, we’ll discuss some of the different types of mobile websites that are available.