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Mobile & Tablet Optimization: The Next Enterprise Search Frontier

Jim Yu
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star-trek-enterpriseFor years now we have heard the phrase “the year of mobile.” In 2013 we are getting much closer to that prediction becoming true.

A key theme during many sessions at this year's SES London was the growth of mobile and tablet search.

Smartphones and tablets now drive one out of every three minutes spent with digital media, according to new research from comScore.

Also, tablet search could drive upwards of $5 billion in revenue for Google in 2013, according to research from Marin Software. While we may not have reached the final mobile frontier marketers are innovating at “warp speed” and mobile and tablet optimization is recognized as the next search frontier.

Enterprise SEO, Mobile & Tablet Search Data Begins to Morph

As a search marketer it is important to remember that the growth of mobile adoption and hence mobile search has not been developed in isolation.

The growth of local search and social media has fueled the need to optimize for mobile and the increased production and usage of tablet devices has offered more and more ways to utilize these channels in some similar, but also different, approaches to mobile search.

As search marketing evolves and the worlds of social, mobile, and local integrate a number of niche opportunities have opened up for the mobile and tablet search marketer. Below are a few statistics to supplement this statement.

Mobile:

  • Mobile accounts for 13 percent of all global Internet traffic.
  • There are over 1.1 billion global smartphone subscribers.
  • There are over 5 billion mobile phone users.
  • 488 million users regularly use Facebook mobile.

Tablets:

  • 31 percent of the U.S. Internet population used a tablet or e-reader in 2012.
  • Shipments of tablets are expected to grow to 383.3 million units in 2017 compared to 72.7 million in 2011 – an increase of 427 percent, according to Adobe.

9-mobile-tablet-search

In a recent survey of more than 4,500 brands in 44 countries in 99 languages, more than 88 percent of marketers viewed mobile and tablet search as their next search marketing frontier.

Mobile & Tablet Search Ranking and Local Search

We have not only seen a rise in smartphone activity in 2012, but also significant activity in tablet computing. As tablets become more popular among consumers, more companies are redirecting their dollars to explore new opportunities in tablet marketing.

Mobile local advertising is set to reach $24 billion In 2016 and Google’s recent changes with regard to social signals, local search and SERP results signify an important shift and focus on mobile and tablet search as, in parallel, mobile and tablet adoption rates surge. According to Sri Sharma from Net Media Planet your user base is often on the move with 50 percent of searches having local intent in them.

Mobile has the power to connect brands to social and local with 54 percent of Facebook users access the site from a mobile device and 92 percent of mobile users share clips on YouTube.

In order track mobile rankings it is important to initially look at local rankings. For example

  • As a first step build local rankings to answer questions such as "Where do I rank in San Francisco, versus Chicago?"
  • Answer that same question, and pivot by device type. “Where do I rank in San Francisco on a mobile device versus a desktop in Chicago?”
  • Look at how often does the phrase "starbucks in belmont" get entered versus "starbucks" without the location on a mobile device?

With tablet computers, there will be different conversion metrics, different keywords to optimize for, and other considerations related to design, experience and transaction and rank. Tablets are used mostly in the home (more than 90 percent of the time) and as a result, Google are starting to treat desktop and tablet in a similar way.

Cindy Krum, another speaker at SES London, provided some excellent tips and insight into mobile SEO in a recent interview for the SEO cover story in .Net Magazine:

“With mobile SEO, it is more than just the usability of the page, but also the “usability” or utility of the search result itself. There are a lot of different types of pre-formatted mobile search results that can be displayed, so we need to make sure that the result is immediately useful for the searcher. If they are searching for a location, an interactive map should be returned, [if searching for] a product, then the appropriate products and reviews should be returned and so on. If the anticipated result is just a traditional blue link, then I want to make sure that the title tag and description tag are meaningful enough to get the click.”

Krum also shared further insight at SES London on how responsive design is preferred by Google perhaps because it is easier for Google as they don't have to crawl multiple URLs. Google formally recommended responsive design in August.

The Enterprise SEO and Access to Mobile and Tablet Metrics

The SEO workforce is now becoming increasingly more mobile in itself and actually accessing SEO analytics on the move is of growing importance.

Companies are developing mobile and tablet applications to provide visibility customized across analytics dashboards. Such applications are designed to provide the enterprise SEO executive with a rich user experience and access to key data while “on the move”.

Conclusion

Mobile and tablet search optimization are increasingly becoming prominent features in enterprise SEO. The growth of mobile and its close relationship with local search highlights the further need for marketers to look at holistic search marketing strategies.

In 2013 mobile marketing and mobile ranking strategies will form a large piece of SEO strategy with a whole new universe of tactics and metrics rising over the search horizon.


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