Mobile Strategy for Small Businesses by Bridget Randolph

Mobile Strategy for Small Businesses by Bridget Randolph

13th September 2013

Welcome to our coverage of #BrightonSEO! Next up we have Bridget Randolph who is an SEO Consultant at Distilled. I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside Bridget for the last few months and her knowledge of mobile is fantastic so I’ve been looking forward to seeing her speak.

Bridget starts off by saying that mobile is HUGE. She backed this up with a few stats:

  • Mobile traffic alone in 2012 was bigger than the entire internet in 2000
  • 25% of UK customers have made a purchase using their mobile device
  • 77% of smartphone users use their phone to research a service or product
  • From here around 50% went on to purchase the item in a local store

Because of all this, businesses need to be mobile-friendly. But businesses are currently doing it wrong and even the bigger brands can’t quite get it right.

Forbes, NY Times and Starbucks are all called out for bad practices on the mobile versions of their site. The Starbucks example was where the call to action to buy a bag of fresh coffee online was pushed right to the bottom of the page when you’re on a mobile device. Apple doesn’t even have a mobile version of their site!

Another quick stat:

  • Of the top 20 retailers in the UK, only 70% have a mobile friendly site

Bridget says that the main problem for this is that lots of obstacles are put in the way.

As for small businesses, they are even less likely to have a mobile friendly site. Part of the problem is that they don’t see the value, but it’s actually pretty easy to show the value of mobile.

For Bridget, the main problem is that they just don’t know where to start and this is where she wants to kick off her talk.

There are three core things to focus on:

  1. Mobile friendly site
  2. Search and discovery
  3. Reaching your customers

For a mobile friendly site there are three main approaches: responsive, dynamic serving and a separate mobile sub-domain. You need to choose the approach that is right for you and your business as well as your users’ needs.

Edit: this is the mobile best practice guide that Bridget mentioned.

If you’re a small business and you have a small website, Bridget recommends using a responsive template and a CMS like WordPress. Bridget recommends a bunch of places to get WordPress themes from as well as some options for a CMS other than WordPress, I didn’t catch them all but I’ll embed the slidedeck afterwards where you can see them.

If you can’t afford these and you can do nothing, at least make use of Facebook and Google+ for your businesses because they’re already mobile friendly.

Bridget points out here that just having a mobile friendly website is not a strategy, it is a starting point.

Moving onto step 2 of the process, search and discovery.

People find your website via mobile SEO, local search and social media.

Mobile SEO – if you have responsive design, you don’t need to do anything extra. If you can’t use a responsive design, use the Vary HTTP header combined with dynamic serving, this tells search engines that you’re serving different versions of the website.

Local search – You need to think about local search if you’re a business with a physical location and / or your services / products are location based. Bridget shows an examples of a search for “plumbers” when located in London and compares screenshots of desktop and mobile devices. The organic results are pushed way down the page on mobile, even more so than desktop!

A few ranking factors for mobile: standard on-page optimisation for location, making sure you’re listed in genuine local business directories.

An important point that Bridget makes is that Google+ Local isn’t the same as Google+. Bridget advises having both and merging them. Local link building such as local news / government sites is another factor.

Edit: Local search ranking factors by David Mihm are here.

Local citations are also important so make sure that when your business is being mentioned across the web, that name, address and phone number are as consistent as possible. Bridget recommends using Whitespark’s local citation finder.

Other important things to look at include store images, structured data, social profiles and reviews.

Here Bridget shows a case study for a shop called Coffee Corner who are doing well on local listings. They have two listings for their brand, one organic and are top of the local results. Value of this = tripling search traffic and seeing visitors coming from Yelp.

Onto the third area of the talk which is social media. Social is a marketing channel in it’s own right and 4/5 people who use Facebook daily will do so on a mobile device. Bridget referenced the Twitter stat from earlier at BrightonSEO where we heard that 80% of UK Twitter users access it on a mobile device.

Social can be great if you do it right but remember it’s about conversation, not broadcast. Make sure you have a content plan too, making sure that whatever content you share is mobile friendly. The Dolphin Pub do a good job on social. A good test it, would you talk about this topic at a dinner party? If the answer is no, then perhaps don’t share it on social.

Next big step in the process: reaching out.

You can reach out to customers where they are instead of waiting for them. You can even bypass the search process altogether with apps, mobile content and emails.

Apps – firstly, do you even need an app? Maybe not but if you rely on return visits, then it may be worth investing in an app. There are two types of app – native and web. Bridget lists pros and cons of both as well as tools that can help you which I didn’t catch but are in the slidedeck which I’ll add to the post later.

You can also make use of exclusive mobile content such as a loyalty app which pushes notifications based on geotargeting. These can contain exclusive offers for mobile visitors such as coffee drinkers who walk past the shop. If you can’t build an app, then you can take advantage of Foursqaure, Facebook and Groupon to do this.

If you’re doing email marketing, make sure you’re using templates that work on mobile devices. 79% of smart phone owners read email on their phone – more than use their smart phone for calls! Mailchimp and Campaign Monitor provide mobile friendly templates.

Bonus tip from Bridget is to provide in-store wifi and collect customer data such as email addresses. You could even do quick surveys and get feedback. My Place Connect can do this kind of thing for you.

Bridget finishes with reiterating that mobile is huge and we need to take advantage of it – now!


Written By
Paddy Moogan is co-founder of Aira, a digital marketing and web development agency based in the UK. He is also the author of “The Link Building Book”.
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