Even though I made a resolution at the beginning of the year to stop talking about responsive web design and SEO, many readers asked me to keep it up, so I did, in a pretty big way.
Being a digital marketer I keep track of social engagement of the articles that I write, and use it as a proxy for interest. My top three articles of all time in terms of social engagement are three I wrote this year on responsive web design.
That being said, I’m sure many of you reading this column aren’t ready for the nuances of responsive web design versus adaptive web design and are just freaking out because you’re hearing things like:
“Mobile is coming faster than anyone expects it. There’s a ton of savvy people in this room [at Pubcon], and yet, no matter how savvy you are, you might be surprised at how quickly mobile is growing.” — Google head of webspam Matt Cutts at Pubcon 2013
The panic sets in when you realize you have no strategy for reaching mobile searchers.
That’s okay. Don’t panic! It’s getting too late for you to be an early adopter when it comes to mobile, as there are some of us who have been writing about it for quite some time. And yet, there are still things you can do right now — even if up until now you thought having a mobile strategy meant planning for how often you moved offices.
Here are five to-dos that will help you catch up a little, and be better positioned for that time, in the not too distant future, when most web traffic comes from mobile devices.
1. Read A Mobile Marketing Book
Books are only so helpful for a field that’s evolving so rapidly, as they can become outdated quickly. Still, there are some great published resources for those who want to get started in mobile search but don’t know where to start.
Google’s Mobile Playbook, by Jason Spero, is one of the best, and it has recently been updated for 2014. It contains best practices and case studies to inspire your own mobile marketing efforts, and a section for growing your organization to adapt to the new mobile reality.
Another good book that came out this past year is Mobile Marketing an Hour a Day by mobile experts Rachel Pasqua and Noah Elkin. Both are well known mobile marketing experts, and they provide a framework for developing a mobile marketing program that literally anyone can understand and apply to their business.
2. Understand Your Mobile Searcher
In 2013, info about mobile search volume went away with Google’s Keyword Tool, but mobile segmentation is returning soon to Keyword Planner.
In the meantime there are still plenty of things in this mobile keyword research guide I wrote earlier in the year that work well. The first thing many people do when doing mobile SEO is choose a mobile site configuration (i.e. responsive vs. adaptive vs. dedicated mobile site), but they should be figuring out what their users want first.
Get an edge on your competitors by understanding what mobile searchers who visit your site want, and give it to them with your content. Google’s Maile Ohye did a helpful video on this topic that’s definitely worth watching.
3. Secure Budget For Mobile SEO
The budget necessary to do mobile SEO depends entirely on the type of organization you have and the type of agency or consultant you’re looking to hire.
But if you’re looking to do mobile SEO, there’s only so much that you can do on your own with no budget. If you need approval to secure the budget, get it now before another banner year for mobile marketing passes you by.
4. Make Your Content Mobile According To That Mobile Searcher’s Needs
Once you understand your searcher, you’ll know which direction your mobile site configuration strategy should take. Have a blog, news or information site where your searchers are looking for information? Go responsive. Have a more complex audience that uses different queries on different platforms at different frequencies? Then dynamic serving or dedicated URLs are the way to go.
But if you decide based on understanding your searchers’ needs, you will not be able to make a mistake on this point.
5. Verify With Google Webmaster Tools & Run Mobile Crawl Errors Report
Whether your mobile site is a dedicated URL, adaptive or a responsive site, you must verify with Google Webmaster Tools and run the mobile (smartphone and feature phone) crawl errors report.
I know in my last column I took Google to task for misleading site owners about responsive web design and SEO, but they really gave mobile site owners a holiday gift with their new mobile search errors report in Webmaster Tools.
Regardless of whether you have a mobile site, use the report to identify those errors that make the mobile user experience so terrible. Fix them regularly and you’ll be a lot better off in mobile search than those people who claim the best mobile SEO strategy is not to have a strategy.
Look, none of these things are going to make you competitive today against people who have been optimizing sites for mobile searchers for years. But they will be a step forward toward an area of marketing that is only getting more relevant with every passing year.
Speaking of which, Happy New Year! More mobile marketing tips and mobile SEO goodness to come in 2014.
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