With the launch of Hummingbird, Google's new search algorithm, In 2013, the company proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that it hasn’t forgotten the all-important base of it's business—its revolutionary search engine.
The technology Google gained from Behavio, in particular, is going to change the average person’s mobile device experience forever.
What Behavio’s technology, as well as Google’s new initiatives, will do is transform your mobile device into a "sensor" of sorts, picking up all sorts of "real world" clues about your surroundings and helping you make the most of where you are. At the same time, Google’s new intuitive search technology will be able to "read" more accurately what you’re really after when you’re searching on a business, product, or service.
What does all this change mean to online marketers? Well, it doesn’t mean you have to make radical changes—yet. What it does mean in 2014, however, is that you need to absolutely keep your mobile customer in mind with your Internet approach. Here are four fantastic ways to do just that:
1. Make the User the Center of Your SEO Strategy
It’s always been important to understand your customer base—but now, that importance has reached a critically high level. Keywords are still essential to SEO—but your online materials also have to be able to answer conversational queries, as many more users are now searching by voice and by casual questions, such as "Where’s the nearest dentist?" Having the information they want readily available on your home page or on social media can make a big difference.
So monitor how your customers query your company online and take note of recurring phrases/questions in their communications. Optimize your content to reflect their concerns and requests. The old SEO reality used to be, "Where do I rank in search results for this query?" The new reality is, "What’s the best way to answer my customer’s questions?"
2.Maximize Your Mobile Site
Most marketers created their initial websites based on the "big-screen" user experience from laptops and desktops—and many have still not caught up with the fact that more and more users are viewing their content on smartphones and tablets.
If your site isn’t extremely mobile-friendly, you could be leaving money on the table; smartphone traffic grew by 125% in recent years, as opposed to only by 12% when it comes to desktops/laptops.
Being mobile-friendly means that your website pages should load quickly—Google encourages a load-speed of one second or less. Any more than that, according to their research, disrupts the users’ flow of thought as they’re out and about trying to make quick decisions. Most sites, however, are comparatively slow-moving dinosaurs. The average load speed today? Over seven seconds.
An effective mobile website also should have a very clean design with a very usable-interface. Easily-accessed clear information, big buttons and clear calls-to-action are essential to converting mobile-users.
3. Use Marketing Videos to Make Your Sale
Tech giant Cisco predicts that, because bandwidth continues to improve on smartphones, mobile video will, by 2016, account for over 70% of total mobile data traffic. New apps such as Vine make it easy to create short, fun videos that entertain as well as sell (which is why companies such as the Lowe’s home improvement chain are jumping on the Vine bandwagon).
4.Know What Mobile Users Are After
Smartphone users are important to market to, simply because they are usually ready to buy—quickly. Fifty-five percent want to purchase within an hour, 83% within a day, according to a Google study. They also want to buy from a business within five miles of where they are at the moment.
That’s why it’s crucial to have your physical address, as well as your hours of operation and contact information, readily available on your website as well as any other local business site listings. And, of course, maintain as high a review grade as you can on Yelp! and other review services, because that information is increasingly displayed with Google search results.
If you want to learn more about how search engines are becoming more and more sophisticated, this video will give you an idea of the direction Google, Bing, and other search engines are taking in their thinking.
Bottom line: They want to know what users are after with their search terms—even if the users themselves aren’t sure!
[Image: Flickr user Dan]