Keeping up with the mobile web

Studies say that mobile search has been steadily increasing over the last few years. According to Google, it grew five-fold from 2009 to 2011. That’s much faster than anybody had expected it to grow. It’s estimated that now over 50% of local business searches are done on mobile devices and not PCs.

If your business is considering mobile, now’s the time to stop thinking and get moving. This trend is not expected to slow down anytime soon.

Your Mobile Site

A good first step is to create a mobile version of your site. Mobile sites are different from PC sites in a number of ways. A regular website is frustrating for mobile users. They’re text-heavy and hard to navigate. Your mobile site is a stripped down version with minimal text, smaller images and more content above the fold (‘above the fold’ is design-speak that means you can see it without scrolling).

A really good mobile site takes advantage of mobile touchscreen capability, giving them lots of buttons to tap instead of links to click. Because typing is hard on a mobile, it’s kept to a minimum. And navigation is simple, with every page just one link or so away from the main page.

Get Found on Mobile Search

Since people are searching more than ever for local businesses on mobiles, you need to take advantage of mobile search. Create listings on sites like Google Places, Foursquare and Yelp. These sites are integrated with maps and driving directions, and they’re great places for new customers to learn about your business.

Fill out your profile completely and keyword-optimize it so that it comes up in web searches. Include lots of pictures and information about your business, and ask your customers to write good reviews. If you’ve got more than one offline location, consider making a profile for each.

Advertising on Mobile

You might consider mobile ads. Google now offers its own mobile ads that are similar to Google AdWords. One major difference is that you can target customers geographically. In other words, by including your address in your ad profile, the ads will appear to customers who are in your local area through the magic of GPS.

Mobile Surfers Are a Different Breed

It’s important to understand that people use their mobiles differently than PCs. For one thing, they’re more likely to be searching in their leisure time. They may be in line at the bank, in a car or on a train, or hanging out on the couch on the weekend. But they’re anything but lazy when it comes to their surfing habits. They tend to look for specific real-time information and not just surf the web casually. Your content needs to deliver that key information they’re looking for.

Track and monitor all of your mobile efforts to discover what’s working and what’s not. This is the real key to making it work, especially if you’re new at it. Split-test your ads, websites, messages, and everything else you can to find the best practices for reaching your market on their mobiles.

Mobile is not a passing fad: It’s here to stay. If you want to see dramatic improvement in your bottom line, go mobile!