The Importance of International Mobile Search Marketing
The International Telecoms Union predicts that there will be more mobile subscriptions than there are people in the world by midway through 2014. This startling statistic doesn’t mean that every individual will own a mobile device of course. Many people have multiple subscriptions and in the Commonwealth of Independent States – the alliance of countries formerly in the Soviet Union and the region with the greatest mobile penetration rate – there are 1.7 subscriptions for every person.
It’s also true that not every mobile device is an internet-enabled smartphone or tablet but the numbers are growing rapidly. Two seperate studies have confirmed that more than half of all adult Americans now own a smartphone but it’s certainly not a trend restricted to the US. Many experts have predicted that the overall number of mobile searches will overtake static searches made on desktop computers and laptops by 2015. In some countries however, this tipping point has already been passed. Mobile searches outnumbered static searches for the first time in India last year and smartphones became the most common way for people to connect to the internet in China in 2012.
The fact that emerging markets are leading the way in mobile internet usage might seem surprising at first. Smartphones allow a relatively cost-effective way of connecting compared to the outlay of purchasing a laptop or desktop computer however. And, while high speed internet access might be considered a human right in some Western countries, cheap, reliable broadband infrastructures are not always available in developing nations.
A report from the China Internet Network Information Center explained:
“Mobile phones are a cheaper and more convenient way to access the internet for [residents in] China’s vast rural areas and for the enormous migrant population. The emergence of smartphones under 1,000 yuan ($157) sharply lowered the threshold for using the devices and encouraged average mobile phone users to become mobile web surfers.”
Mobile search habits
Mobile users do not only access the internet via a different route, they also exhibit different usage patterns and habits while they are there. Search engines are the most visited websites on mobile and searchers seek out a wide variety of information. News is the type of information most commonly sought, followed by dining/restaurant information, navigation, entertainment and shopping.
Crucially, while surfing and browsing are common activities, mobile searchers tend to have a clearly defined goal in mind. According to a study by Google, nine out of ten searchers have taken action as a result of a smartphone search. For 68% of users this involved visiting a business, either online or in person, and for 52% it involved making a direct purchase. Other actions included recommending a brand or product to others, visiting related social media sites and looking for further information via the smartphone, on a computer or offline.
Mobile users also frequently search for local information. 95% of smartphone users have looked for local information and 88% of these users have taken action within a day, indicating these are searches for immediate needs. 77% have contacted a business, with 61% calling and 59% visiting the local business. It’s therefore important to localize your content and include maps and directions for physical locations.
Another important search habit to keep in mind is that mobile searchers are more likely to click through to the top search result. Mobile users tend not to like to scroll down too far and certainly don’t like to click to the second or further pages of search results. This means that mobile SEO and pay-per-click campaigns can be very valuable. Many aspects of traditional SEO apply to sites accessed via mobile devices. Strong keywords and valuable links are still important but don’t assume that a site optimized for static search will automatically fare well in the mobile search results. Search engines also rank pages based on some common criteria like loading speeds, screen rendering, site performance and usability. Google recently announced changes in its mobile search ranking algorithms that effectively penalise sites that are not properly optimized and configured for mobile formats. Developing sites that can be easily accessed and used across all devices can therefore help boost your SEO.
As well as the effect it can have on your SEO, optimizing your site for mobile provides visitors with a more rewarding experience. A recent survey found that two-thirds of smartphone users cited slow to load web pages as one of their biggest frustrations, with 64% of smartphone users expecting a site to load within four seconds. The size of the screen and the interface should also be taken into account. Clear, simple designs tend to work best on mobile, with clear navigation buttons rather than text links. Only 33% of mobile users make it past the first page so place calls to action prominently on your landing page.
Small screens are increasingly equating to big business all over the world. A little forethought, planning and attention to detail can help you take advantage of the fact.