Laura Jennings - How mobile search can benefit local companies
More and more people are using their mobiles to search and buy online.
A study by the ONS last year found that 45pc of UK internet browsers used a mobile phone to connect to the internet, and another by EPiServer found that 33pc of smartphone users have made a purchase on a mobile.
As more and more people use their mobiles to search and buy online, it is important that your website is ready for them.
It's not just ecommerce websites that are attracting mobile visitors. Local businesses could be set to benefit the most from mobile search, as Google recently reported that one in three mobile searches has 'local intent'.
Whether it's people searching for a nearby restaurant, a local taxi company or attractions in the region, people are looking for local information on the move.
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If you have Google Analytics installed on your website, there is an easy way to check whether you are already getting visitors from mobile devices.
Simply log in and click the Audience option in the left-hand menu and then select Mobile.
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It might be more than you think! If you are getting regular visitors to your website from mobiles, then it is essential to ensure that your website can be easily navigated on a smaller screen, so that you are not losing potential customers.
To see how your website is currently displayed on a smartphone, head to www.howtogomo.com and select Test Your Site.
This is a site created by Google that explains mobile websites – you can even download a quick report that explains where your site needs to be adapted for mobiles.
There are a number of key factors that help to make a mobile website more user-friendly.
No one likes having to zoom in and out of a webpage just to click on a tiny button, so your mobile site should have links that are big enough for a thumb to click without accidentally clicking something else.
The same goes for the text on your website, which should be large enough to read without zooming and should be minimal, with only the most important information such as services or products, contact details and USPs shown.
Before you create your mobile site, take a moment to consider what your customers are looking for and make sure that it can be easily found. That information should not be more than one click away, otherwise you risk losing visitors. For example, if you are a local restaurant, mobile searchers are likely to be interested in information such as your menu, your opening hours, your phone number, your address for their SatNav, or other information directly relevant to deciding whether to eat with you.
You only have a small amount of space to work with so choose your content carefully.
The number of people with smartphones is only going to continue to rise. As you consider your marketing strategy, it's well worth taking the time to find out whether there are potential customers who are searching from mobile devices and what more you can do to engage with this audience.
Laura Jenning is a director of Fountain Partnership