How to navigate the shift from desktop to mobile search

4 MINS Team

More and more people are using their mobile devices to search for businesses, products or services. How can you make sure you get found when people are looking for what you sell?

There are two factors to consider when optimizing your site for mobile search results. First, people who are performing searches on mobile devices are often out and about, looking for local businesses. If you have a physical location that caters to local customers, such as a restaurant or retail store, you need to localize your website for search. You can do this by:

  • Listing your website on local search directories. It’s important to make sure that your business information is listed the exact same way on each directory. For example, your street address should be the same on each directory — not “1412 Johnson Ave.” on one listing and “1412 Johnson Avenue” on another. Your business name should be the same—not “Mario’s Restaurant” on one listing and “Mario’s Pizza Restaurant” on another. If there are inconsistencies, Google may consider these separate businesses, which won’t help your search rankings. Getting listed and updating your listings can be time-consuming, so consider using a service that lists your business on local search directories.
  • Localizing your keywords. Include local terms in the keywords that you use in your website’s tags and body copy. Use the terms that people are likely to use when looking for you — this may include not only your city, but also the neighborhood within your city or terms that only locals use, such as “Eastside.”
  • Improving your page speed. The time that a website takes to load on a mobile device is critical to rising higher in search results. Google made mobile-friendliness a factor in search engine results last year, and recently announced that it will be putting even more importance on page speed. If your site is too slow to load compared to your competitors, you could get left behind.

OK, the user has found your website in search results. That’s great, but you’re not done yet. To help ensure that they visit your business or buy from your e-commerce site, you need to take a few more steps:

  • Improve your page speed. Yes, page speed matters not only to search, but also to what users do after they find you in search. If a potential customer clicks on your website and it takes more than a second or two to load, the user is likely to get frustrated and give up. Overly large graphics, unnecessary scripts and other features can slow your load times down. You can use Google PageSpeed Insights tool to assess your website’s page speed and get recommendations for improving it.
  • Optimize your website for mobile use. Building a mobile-friendly website using responsive design is the first step, but it’s not all you need to do. Make sure your website makes it easy for mobile users to do what they need to do there. Think about the tasks they’ll want to carry out and the information they need. For example, if you have a physical location, information such as address, hours and phone number is probably the most important for mobile users. Make sure this appears at the top of the screen without the need to scroll down. Being able to click for a map or click to call your business is helpful, too.
  • Do you want customers to purchase from your e-commerce site on a mobile device? Simplify the layout using features such as “hamburger” menus, filters to limit search results so they’re not unmanageably large, and minimal forms to fill out when placing the order. Having customers create accounts and store their payment, shipping and other information also makes it easier to buy on a mobile device. Last but not least, make sure your site offers the security that customers need to feel comfortable buying on mobile.

By taking these steps, you can keep your website coming up high in search results as customers continue their move from desktop to mobile search.

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