You need a mobile Web site. And you know that you do. You’ve been hearing everywhere that THIS is finally the year for mobile. And now that it’s upon us and that mobile phones are outnumbering computers, how do you make sure you’re getting the most from it? What do you need to ask yourself when prepping for that mobile site?
Here’s where I’d start as a small business owner.
Does the site render?
This is a good place to start – does your site even render on a mobile device? You’d be surprised how many small business owners simply assume it will and never think to check. If that’s you, then you may unknowingly be leaving customers out in the cold when they try to bring up your site on a mobile device and find it doesn’t load. Or that the navigation doesn’t work. Or maybe your images are messing with the formatting. With so many people using phones to search in today’s environment you can’t afford to guess anymore. You need to be absolutely sure that your site is rendering on mobile, and if it’s not you need to take immediate steps to fix it.
If you’re not sure whether or not your site works on a mobile device, there are a number of mobile emulators you can use to find out. Do it.
Is the site well-optimized for mobile search?
While there’s certainly lots of overlap, mobile search relies on a different algorithm than “normal” search does. That means there’s an opportunity to specifically optimize your site for a mobile viewing experience. For example, being conscious of page size, not overusing images, including a mobile sitemap, employing certain doc types, etc are all important mobile ranking factors and things SMB owners should be aware of. Mobile search may still be the new kid on the market, but it’s growing. And as a small business owner you should know that it’s especially growing on location searches. Last year The Kelsey Group predicted a 130.5% growth rate for local mobile search and an 81.2% growth for overall mobile ad revenues by 2013. You can either get in on that now or you can wait for your competitors to catch up. Taking the steps to ensure that your site not only renders, but that it’s optimized for mobile, will give you a big leg up on the competition.
What are your customers looking for?
Don’t simply assume that a mobile visitor has the same needs and wants as a traditional desktop user – because it’s likely they don’t. While someone accessing your site from their desktop may be interested in reading multi-page articles and scanning your whole site for content, someone on a mobile device probably just wants the headlines. They want the sound bytes, the scores, your location information, your hours, etc. They’re searchers on a mission. You want to find out what exactly their goal is and then customize an experience specifically for them.
If you’re not sure what your most popular links are when accessed from a mobile device, your analytics can tell you. Simply segment your data so that you’re looking only at what people do if they’re coming in from a mobile device. Once you know what your customers are after, you can serve them with only the information they want. Getting the kitchen sink is nice…until you have to wait for it to load.
What devices are they using?
You also want to know what devices visitors are using when they go to search online. Knowing this will allow you to create a better experience based on the size of the screen/features of the specific phone they’re using. For example, if you know that 80 percent of those who access your site via a mobile device use an iPhone, then maybe you can put video highlights of today’s big football game on your mobile site. However, if they’re accessing you from a lesser “smart” phone, than perhaps you want to strip all of that out since it’s not likely they’ll be using that functionality.
To find out what device visitors are using to access your site, go back into your analytics and click on the Mobile Devices tab in the Visitors section. This will give you a breakdown of how your customers are accessing your site. You may be pretty surprised at the results. For example, when I checked the analytics Outspoken Media, I found that the iPad was already in the top five for mobile devices uses. That’s good information to know.
The above represents four questions that I think any small business owner should ask themselves when dealing with mobile Web sites. It’s simply not good enough to “think” your site loads properly. In today’s on-the-go environment, you not only need a mobile presence, you need an optimized mobile presence.