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Is it time to go mobile?

Written by Brett Sidaway, July 26, 2011
 | Is it time to go mobile?

Is it time to go mobile?

Sometimes it’s hard not to feel sorry for small businesses who simply want their website to bring them more business.

Recently they have had to deal with the impact of the growth in social media, Google’s shifting algorithm that emphasises more on relevant regularly updated content and the growth in web video. To add to the list, they also need to think about the recent growth in use of mobile searches. As next generation smart phones become more widely available, users are increasingly searching online and, that may mean they are looking for local goods and services. That has to be good news for smaller, often local-based small businesses doesn’t it? In truth the latest figures offer a more mixed picture. Click through rates are around 70% lower than desktop searches and completed online transactions are significantly lower, creating a ROI of just 10% compared to desktop. This perhaps is the most telling statistic as it indicates why smart phone users currently use the web – not to do something they can do anywhere, anytime but to search for something related to their location. Another set of stats from the same research backs this up. Almost 1/3 of mobile searches are for restaurants. If you have a restaurant, it’s a no-brainer. But if you’re in some other line of business, what do you do? As with everything in business, the decision whether to create a mobile website needs to be a rational decision, but not necessary just driven by ROI because ROI cannot measure future habits and trends. There is no doubt smart phone penetration will continue to grow, and that will lead to increased mobile searches. My hunch is that this growth will ultimately lead to mobile searches increasingly replicating desktop searches as more and more consumers search from the convenience of the train, the garden and the sofa. Currently less than 5% of businesses have mobile websites so making the decision early can give you a competitive advantage. However you will need to take a long critical look at your website and you may decide to firstly to create a mobile specific website rather than simply convert your current site. Fortunately neither options needs to be expensive or time consuming. For many content managed (CMS) websites, especially ones like Joomla, WordPress and Drupal, there will be plug-ins that will convert your site for smart phone in less than 10 minutes, and, with hardly any expertise required. They will also allow you to develop a mobile-friendly version of your current site by changing or creating modules. For example, the first thing that is seen by the mobile user might be your address and opening hours, or today’s special offer or a list of today’s events etc – the list is endless but you will need to start to think about what this market will be looking for. Of course you might not be running one of the CMS websites above. You may decide to take this opportunity to do so – either by redeveloping your current website or creating a mobile website using something like Joomla. The advantage is that there are currently 100s of websites specifically designed for mobile sites, and an increasing number of plug-ins that will add functionality as well as allowing you to manage the site content using your own smart phone. As with desktop sites, SEO is key and the general ideas about good practice remains. Choosing a mobile specific subdomain such as www.mobile.mysite.com is something to consider, but it’s less important than making sure the content can be seen – some smart phone don’t support Flash for example, so the overall format and web design of your mobile website needs to be carefully thought through. It needs to be relevant too – and businesses have a great opportunity to market to a mobile savvy audience, a chance to deliver different messages from the desktop website and to offer services and products to a more technologically-informed audience. Mobile users search differently too using around 25% fewer words for each search, so your keyword startegy will be need to accommodate this fact. By 2012 mobile searches will account for 25% of global searches. This suggests now is the time to plan, create and launch a website that will ensure that those on the move keep your business moving forward.

Image credit – Kohei314

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