Consumers using mobile devices aren’t just gathering information, they are making purchasing decisions. Ignoring this is risky for local business trying to compete in digital landscape that has been pruned by Google. Ad placement in the top 3 positions (sometimes 4) followed by the Google maps 3-pack eat up a lot of above the fold SERP (search engine results page) real estate. Optimizing for Google mobile search is a matter of survival.
Are you ‘near me’ Google mobile search optimized?
I previously posted about how we are all Googlebots in Google’s use of mobile devices for ranking factors. Exact GPS allows Google to determine our location and then recommend local businesses that match the search query.
Brand loyalty is being displaced by convenience. Mobile searches for terms like “near me”, “nearby” and “closest” have increased significantly and according to Google account for nearly 60% of all search queries across device types. A staggering 50% of all mobile searches visit the store and 18% of those result in a sale. If you sell products or services online the stakes in the mobile land grab couldn’t be more real. A growing 30% of all online sales are from mobile devices. These statistics can’t be overstated or ignored.
These searches are increasing across all business types including, restaurants, coffee shops, hair salons, plumbers, pizza parlors, real estate broker, grocery stores, veterinarians and book stores. This trend of visit in person intent is not going away.
Do what you need to do
The first step is to admit that you must surrender your digital soul to the great and powerful Google machine. You can’t click your ruby heels together 3 times and wish you were somewhere else. This is real and it can mean the difference between business survival or failure. Many good businesses have ignored prior changes and now are in the dust bin of digital marketing history.
My grandfather owned a grocery store. He managed to operate his business successfully for many years before retiring without ever picking up a mobile device, using a search engine or navigating a website. That was over 70 years ago. The reasons he was so successful was because he was obsessively optimistic, highly motivated, and understood that to compete with the other 4 grocery stores in his small town he must use creative marketing tools and tactics.
Get on the Google bus or get left behind
If you are a local business it is important that you pay attention to queries that are used on mobile devices. Then optimize your website for those keywords and the user intent that they signify. If you doubt this is important to Google, read part 2 of the Search Quality Rating Guidelines.
So, what can you do improve your mobile search presence?
7 tips for mobile search optimization
Mobile Friendly Website
Make sure your site is mobile friendly. The assumption I am making is that your site is responsive (browser and device agnostic). In other words it displays correctly regardless of the browser or device being used.
Google gives credit and ranking authority to sites that load quickly. Particularly in mobile devices. Check your site load speed here and see what corrections you can make to improve the score. I recommend a minimum score of between 80 and 90.
Do all the normal onsite SEO tasks like performing a thorough SEO technical audit, keyword rich title tag and meta description, optimized images, and writing relevant, engaging, shareable content that follows the user intent rules previously discussed.
Google My Business Listing
If you haven’t created, claimed and verified your business Google My Business Listing this is probably the top priority. Not that the other suggestions are less important, but this one almost seems too obvious to be mentioned here.
Google Webmaster Tools
In your Search Console (previously called Google Webmaster Tools) add and verify your domain(s). This is also a good time to connect your other Google assets such as Analytics and Adwords to Search Console. This is just good common sense to let Google know about your use and activity with those products.
Directory Citation Business Listings
Another factor Google considers in their rankings is your business’s presence in online directories. Claim your business listing on as many online directories as possible. Make sure your NAP (name, address and phone number) are consistent on each listing. Directories share content with data warehouses and once the listing is propagated across the internet universe you don’t want to have to go back and correct errors.
Adding Schema markup to your HTML improves the way your page displays in SERPs by enhancing the rich snippets that are displayed beneath the page title.
Keeping up with Google algorithm and ranking factor changes is work. Implementing them requires some technical knowledge and a lot of research. For business owners this can be a choice between prioritizing day to day operational and administrative tasks to keep your business running and spending valuable time and energy learning how to do this yourself. You either need to find the time to execute or hire someone to do it for you.