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Business Owners: Ignore Local Mobile Search at Your Own Peril

Brick and mortar local storeMy husband and I like to go treasure hunting in thrift stores, and I recently found a very nice long winter coat. It’s the kind of coat that would be comfortable in Dr. Zhivago, and it was a timely find. Living and working in Atlanta, I rarely need more than a light jacket in the winter, but I have some trips this winter that require a warm, professional coat. The coat was high quality and in perfect condition except for that musty smell that all thrift store clothes seem to have. Nevertheless, it was well worth the cost of dry cleaning.

So, I bought the coat and a week later I remembered to get it cleaned. Our last experience with a dry cleaner in our neighborhood was disappointing, so I decided to search for a new one. Standing in the middle of my kitchen, I picked up my cell phone and searched Google for “dry cleaners in Lithonia Georgia.”

It’s important to note that I was at home with an assortment of laptops, desktop computers, and tablets, but I still searched using my mobile phone. Why? For one thing, I already had it in my hand (Who doesn’t?). Secondly, I navigate using my phone’s GPS. With the address in my phone, I can easily access directions in a click or two once I’m in my car.

My search yielded 3 map results for my query, “dry cleaners in Lithonia Georgia.”

Screenshot of local pack results in Google SERPs with a map on a smartphone

As you can see, none of the top 3 local pack results had a rating or a link to a website, and only the 3rd local search result had a customer review.

Compare this to the search results for “dry cleaners in Atlanta GA.” You’ll notice that the top map result for Atlanta has 5 stars, lists 16 reviews, and links directly to the company website. With only this information to go on, which business would you trust?

Local search results for dry cleaners in Atlanta

Of the 3 local search results in Lithonia, only one had a review. I was hopeful. One good review would make this a simple choice.

Screenshot of a Google My Business listing on a mobile phone with a poor review

Uh … moving on. The 3 local pack results had been no help at all except to eliminate one business from consideration. Aside from location, I had nothing to go on, so I decided to check the organic results below the local pack.

Screenshot of local search results in Google on a mobile device showing IYP directory and local review site results

I would have preferred to compare prices and services on the dry cleaners’ website, but there were none listed in the search results. Every single organic search result on the first page was either for a niche directory or an IYP directory (IYP = Internet Yellow Pages). I clicked the link for YellowPages.com and was presented with the following options:

 

Yellow Pages ListingSeriously? While Decatur, Stone Mountain, and Tucker are fairly close, there must be at least 30 dry cleaners within a 5-mile radius of my home. Unfortunately, none of them had more than a phone number listed. (Note that this was the organic search result in Google and not the result from using the yellowpages.com search feature.)

As a local SEO provider, this was frustrating. A dry cleaner in my area could easily dominate local search with just the slightest bit of time and effort because there’s zero competition.

I decided to click on the next organic result in Google, which was a link to Yelp. When I clicked the link, my phone gave me the option to open the Yelp app, which was already installed on my phone.

Local business search results on Yelp

The top listing was in Decatur, but it had 5 stars and probably wasn’t that far. I clicked to see the review.

Ugh! According to the reviewer, the business listed the wrong address. Duluth is much too far to drive for dry cleaning.

I finally settled on Covington Cleaners because I was familiar with the shopping center in which they were located.

Yelp local business listing

I called them to verify that they were, in fact, there and open for business.

Like most consumers today, I had already made my choice before I ever called the business. Today’s consumers are much further along the buyer’s journey than you might assume, so it’s critical for businesses to pay attention to how they are presented online.

Search Google for the name of your company, and you may find that your small, locally-owned business is listed in all sorts of directories that you’ve never even heard of. Unfortunately, you may also find that your business information is inaccurate.

What’s important when it comes to local, mobile search?

Here are the cliff notes for optimizing your website for local, mobile search. If you do nothing else to promote your business online, do these:

  1. Check your business listings in the most popular IYP directories. There are hundreds of these, but you should at least make sure your Name, Address, and Phone Number are listed correctly on the top 50 local citation sites.
  2. Pay attention to what people are saying about your business online. Negative online reviews have a tendency to linger, so encourage your satisfied clients to leave reviews. Never, ever pay them to leave a positive review.
  3. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly. Text should be large enough to read on a mobile device. Phone numbers and directions should be easy to find and clickable.
  4. Claim and verify your Google My Business listing. Make sure your business is listing in the correct categories.

There’s a lot more to local search optimization and mobile-friendly website design, but these are some of the basics.

Need help optimizing your site for local and/or mobile search?

That’s what we’re here for. Call 678-824-5560 to find out how to improve your local search performance.

Mobile Design for The Modern Business

Back in the days of Mad Men, modern businessmen would leave their wives behind, pick up a newspaper from the front doorstep, catch up on yesterday’s affairs on the train or car ride to work, and pass along information with old school note passing, secretaries, phone messages or, shockingly, share news in person. Shopping was done by hand, air tickets booked by telephone, data stored on fat heavy disks, books read by hand; the list goes on… Obviously, a lot has changed in today’s world, meaning businesses need to be doing a lot less in person and a lot more online to build their fanbase.

We are now in the age of the mobile phone: the news is delivered via text the second a catastrophe happens, shopping, groceries, talking and messaging is all done behind the screen, and even business meetings are increasingly taking place over computers. In an age where more people own mobile phones than toothbrushes, the mobile market is ripe for businesses to relay information, opening the Smartphone App market up to new and creative possibilities for businesses. And many businesses have been jumping on the App market, creating Smartphone-friendly Apps for their companies, brands, new hot deals; so much so that the App market is overflowing with possibilities. The only catch – there is limited space on phones, and attention spans are now shorter than ever.

For businesses looking to catch a larger pool of mobile clientele, the best solution might just be developing a user-friendly, Smartphone-adaptable, modern website that can be easily navigated on mobile phones. This way, customers can seek your company out on their own terms, and if your website is easy to use, it might just be a hit during those long business meetings. Here’s a rundown on everything you need to know to get your website designed for the mobile client:

Go to infographic transcription

Mobile Design for the Modern Business infographic

 

Infographic Transcription

The Importance of Mobile Design

According to Ericcson1, by the end of 2013, global mobile penetration reached nearly 92%.

There are 6.7 billion mobile subscriptions. However, the actual number of subscribers is 4.5 billion.

This is because many people might have more than one mobile subscription, such as…

  • Work cell
  • Home Cell
  • Tablet
  • PC dongle.

Smartphone users spend an average of 2 hours and 42 minutes a day on mobile devices.

  • 02:16 is spent on mobile app usage.
  • 00:22 is spent on mobile web browsing.

But are mobile apps a better substitute for a mobile website or mobile-optimized site?

No! A mobile user may never download a native app, but is HIGHLY unlikely they will never use the mobile web.

For researching purchases, mobile web is still preferred. 4 out of 5 US smartphone owners use their phone to help with shopping, including:

  • Searching for store loaction
  • Comparing prices and reading reviews on 3rd party sites
  • Looking for promotions and discounts.

Other mobile spending stats:

  • 74% of smartphone shoppers have made a purchase following the research on a phone.
  • 8% of the total e-commerce market is comprised of mobile commerce.
  • The average annual spend on mobile purchases in the US was $300 x $10.

So mobile’s important. How can you design for it?

Mobile is a whole different environment than the traditional web page. You need to tailor your media to keep up with the ever-evolving platform.

Device Fragmentation

Mobile design needs to be able to match any mobile screen. You need to consider:

  • Screen size
  • Screen orientation
  • Physical input
  • Pixel density.

OS Fragmentation

Today there are three major mobile operating systems:

  • Android
  • Apple
  • Windows

One needs to consider…

  • Interface patterns
  • Variations between OS versions
  • External inputs
  • Variations between device makers (for Android).

Performance Development

The costs of developing for mobile are different than for strict web design, not to mention apps!

  • How will your design run on devices with different processing ability?
  • How will your site or app use the device’s resources?
  • How will you run trials and implement across multiple devices?

The answer? Responsive Design

Responsive design will adapt and automatically change the layout of a website to fit the device being used.

  • It maximizes user experience
  • Improves functionality
  • Improves readability

Without responsive, there are two options for mobile design…

  1. A mobile version of the website
  2. A non-optimized site

A successful mobile design is not static

Think not about individual pages, but also the transitions and navigation of your pages.

Images should be able to easily scale and fit to any screen size.

  1. Your mobile design should be innovative without being overloaded with slow-loading and battery-draining visual effects.
    - This is especially important when considering mobile apps!
    - Use CSS Elements and Javascript with caution!
  2. You need to understand the underlying structure of the platforms and interface patterns.
  3. Know how far you can customize UI components. Don’t be afraid to be “unoriginal”-simply redesigning known native UI elements can help you create the most efficient and cost-effective interface.
  4. Utilize the best featurs of mobile tech: Cameras & Microphone, Voice, Face & Fingerprint Recognition, Tap Detection, Location Services and More!

Tools for Mobile Design

Sketch - Sketch is a graphic design tool built with mobile in mind.

Proto – Proto is a mobile prototyping platform to help build and deploy mobile app simulations.

ImageOptim – ImageOptim helps compress image files without loss of quality.

Liveview – LiveView can help you see how your screen on your computer will appear on your mobile.

Origami by Facebook – Origami by Facebook is another tool for native UI prototyping, the closest you can get without going into coding.

Sources

http://mashable.com/2014/06/09/mobile-design-guide/
http://www.ericsson.com/ericsson-mobility-report
http://techcrunch.com/2014/04/01/mobile-app-usage-increases-in-2014-as-mobile-web-surfing-declines/

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ivan Serrano is a social media and business journalist living in Northern California.

Google is Serious About Mobile-Friendly Websites

For a while now, Google has been telling website owners to get their acts together and make sites more user-friendly on mobile devices. A few weeks ago, Google made a few changes that suggest that mobile-friendly websites will perform better in mobile search results.  By “perform better” I mean that sites will not only rank higher but will likely see higher click-through-rates (CTRs).

First, Google introduced the mobile-friendly test that tells you which areas need work to make your website more mobile-friendly.

Google's Mobile-Friendly Test analyzes a URL and reports if the page has a mobile-friendly design.

Go ahead and check out how your site is doing at https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/.

Then Google introduced a new feature of Google Webmaster Tools called “Mobile Usability” to help website owners understand where their sites fall short.  

Mobile Usability results in Google Webmaster Tools

Have you been procrastinating about updating your website to make it more “mobile-friendly.” (Have you thought about it at all?) If you’re like us, you’ve been far too busy in the busy-ness of your business to worry about how your site works on a smartphone or tablet. When is the last time you looked at your own website on a mobile device?

Go ahead and see what your website looks like on your phone? I’ll wait.

Not great, huh? The truth is that a lot of small businesses rarely think about their websites at all.

I have a confession to make. We’re guilty, too. We’ve spent the last couple of years working to make client websites mobile-friendly through responsive web design, but we’ve been neglecting our own. See the Mobile Usability results above? Those are the results for our site. Yes, it’s sad and embarrassing, but we’re working on it.

Does mobile usability really matter that much?

You bet it does. Many of our clients are getting over 50% of site traffic from mobile devices. If that doesn’t convince you of the importance of mobile-friendly website design, take a look at the small change that Google made that gives mobile-friendly websites an advantage in mobile search results.

Google has added a new feature to search results in mobile devices to indicate whether or not the site is mobile-friendly.

Take a look at these results for “coffee shop Atlanta GA.”

Mobile search results for coffee shops in Atlanta that shows the mobile-friendly notation.

See the “Mobile-friendly” label next to the top three results? If you are using your smartphone to search, would you click the link to a mobile-friendly website or one that’s not mobile-friendly. The benefits of a mobile-friendly design are easy to see: a better experience for site visitors and better performance in mobile search.

See why it’s so important to optimize your website for mobile viewing? What are you waiting for? Give us a call to learn more about our responsive web design services and how we can make your website mobile-friendly.



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