The mobile web is growing leaps and bounds as we write. The whole world has gone mobile. Erick Schonfeld of Techcrunch.com notes that the mobile web grew by about 110% in the U.S last year alluding to research findings from QuantCast.
What's with the world you ask? QuantCast also has a worldwide distribution and share of the mobile web.
According to Eric Zeman of Information Week, mobile now accounts for about 17% of the entire web traffic. The state of the mobile web is only set to grow if the findings from Gartner are anything to go by. Global smartphones sales amounted to 225 million units by the second quarter of 2013. The more people buy smartphones, the more they'd use these phones to access the web.
If the web has moved to the mobile (partly and intermittently for now), everything else on the web also has to move into customers hands. Websites go responsive, the usage of apps is on the rise forever, and even digital marketing has gone mobile. Emails, blogs, and even static websites are all being designed keeping the rising use of mobiles for web access.
Mobile SEO, mobile email marketing, Mobile ads, and mobile apps -- they are all the new order of the day. Obviously then, ecommerce isn't a desktop affair alone. Since SEO makes for a staple form of advertising and promotions for many ecommerce sites, mobile SEO swung into focus. Getting Mobile SEO right isn't exactly the same as traditional SEO practices (which aren't cast in stone either). Here are some ways to make sure that your mobile SEO efforts for ecommerce don't go in vain and that you are able to bridge the gap between thumb-driven, purposeful, and quick user search with intent and your product pages.
Pay heed to the Gods of Search
Its good to go back to basics, at least for the sake of the growing pool of mobile users.
Google has mobile-specific favorites
Peter McLachlan wrote up a definitive guide to Google's mobile SEO rules and a few things are clear whether you have a single page website or a humongous ecommerce site. Google prefers single URLs and has a bias for responsive web design. Redirects are slow (http://m.yoursite.com showing up on a smartphone is a redirect) and can cause delays. Mobile proxies are out. Smartphone 404 pages are old already.
Use banners inline with text to promote apps for your websites and make sure your links point to relevant pages (pointing to your desktop version website from a smartphone rendered web page is irrelevant, for instance).
Speed is everything
Brevity and Simplicity take center stage
While your ecommerce store goes mobile, most of what could fit into your desktop version wont fit on a screen that measures 4 inches to 7 inches. Mobile SEO still calls for good content, proper indexing, back linking, relevance, and all of those usual SEO best practices with a difference: simplicity in rendering.
Maybe we should take a leaf out of Amazons own mobile-based ecommerce site and take a few lessons. While we were looking for the hard bound version of Tim Ferriss The 4-hour Work Week, this is how Amazon renders the pages:
Things to note:
- The images are compressed and small in size. They help load pages quickly.
- The emphasis is on the product image, buy now, Add to Wish list, and Explore more books.
- Scroll down and you'll find product description (with an arrow leading to another page for a complete description).
- A snippet of information about product specifics such as shipping information, size of the book, weight, etc.
Tools help. That's why they exist
Your ecommerce store will work best when it gets some help. Now, while the desktop version of your ecommerce store will sit with its own toolbox, your mobile-based ecommerce store will need a tool box of its own consisting of web-based apps, mobile apps, and other tools to help manage your mobile SEO efforts for your ecommerce store.
Tools for Mobile SEO
- Google Analytics (Mobile)
- User Agent Switcher: Addon for Chrome and Firefox
- PageSpeed Insights
- Web Sniffer
Apps and Tools for special cases
eBay's New Mobile-ready storefront: eBay is already responsive and mobile ready for its shoppers. If you have an eBay store, work on descriptions and other content to make sure you match.
- Shopify Mobile: lets you import your Shopify store and check daily revenue, performance metrics, track trends, see open orders, etc.
- Frame and ShopPad: Allows you to provide a multi-touch experience to your shoppers through their smartphones and tablets.
- Super Review: SEO-friendly review system for your shopify store.
If you need more help, you could reach out to Shopify experts to make custom modifications to your Shopify-based ecommerce store.
Learning from the best
Google has its own help center for helping your ecommerce site go mobile. Refer to Google's Think Insights. Get the complete picture and plan for your ecommerce success using Google's own planning tools. Google's tools and advertising platforms are a good start to give your ecommerce site a much-needed boost. You might also need to give ComScores' 2013 Mobile Future in Focus a good read to give you perspective. Rachel Pasqua of Marketing Land enunciates various options you have for Mobile SEO.
Would you be rather happy with some inspiration? Creative Bloq has a well-curated list of 18 brilliantly responsive ecommerce sites. Smashing Magazine has the insider information on how to boost your mobile ecommerce sales with mobile design patterns citing plenty of live examples of mobile ecommerce sites and how each of these sites feature on search results, user interface, and the overall shopping experience.
For your ecommerce store, going mobile is not optional. It's the future. Shopping on mobile and tablets is convenience redefined. For businesses, it's an opportunity. How are you poised to tap into the new mobile ecommerce trend? How prepared are you for the future?
Pratik Dholakiya is Co-Founder & VP of Marketing of E2M Solutions & OnlyDesign. At E2M Solutions, they focus heavily on content marketing and generate revenue for their clients. And through OnlyDesign they help companies build better web & mobile presence. Get in touch with him on Twitter @DholakiyaPratik to ask for any help.