In the beginning there was search and it was good. We sat at our desks and typed things into our large stationary computers attached by some kind of cord to the Internet. We would linger, we would have to be patient and take our time to find what we wanted (because dial up speeds were ssslllloooowww). Then came laptops and wireless and we could sit in coffee shops or take our computers into business meetings. Connection speeds and processors got faster. We got less patient and less likely to dig deeper to find what we wanted. Then came the iPhone and all its brethren, a powerful handheld computer that could easily go anywhere. The smartphone revolution changed the face of how we interacted with the Internet forever. And the addition of the iPad and other tablets added another layer of mobile complexity to the way the audience engages with online content. Whether text or video, as long as there is a decent Internet connection (and a reasonable data plan) people can be plugged into your content anywhere. How does this moving, agile audience change search marketing? How do you make sure your screen media content and its related text is mobile accessible and gets found? This issue of From Search to Screen takes a closer look at these questions.
Mobile is Changing Why People Search
Instant gratification is the key to mobile phone search. If I see an actor in a movie and can’t remember his name or where I saw him before, I no longer have to be tortured by my faulty memory. I can simply go to my phone, look him up on IMDb (either using their app or mobile website), find the list of his past work and get on with my day. Or if I’m in a store looking for gift ideas or torn between two televisions, I can quickly check reviews and recommendations online to get some added information, instead of having to wait to go home and do my research. Or if I’m in a meeting I can easily search for and show a client or colleague that great article I just read last night.
While smartphones are actively with us during our work day, tablets are more likely to come out in the evening, when we’re watching television or snuggled up in bed, what a recent post by Google described as “lean back” behaviour. However, we are still actively searching from this vantage point, perhaps for more information on things we see on TV (as a second screen of supplemental content) or as a replacement for desktop computer searches.
The bottom line, smartphone and tablet searches are enhancing and changing the way we interact with the real world and our entertainment and put Internet search literally at our fingertips wherever and whenever we want.
Mobile is Changing How People Search
A study from Yahoo earlier this year provides some great insight into how mobile is changing the way we search:
- Men are more likely than women to use their phones for searches (7-9% more often), although there are not significant differences across age demographics.
- Unsurprisingly, we more often use fewer words for mobile searches (the less we have to type with those small keys the better).
- We are less likely to search for specific brands on our phones, but opt for broader category terms in general merchandise, retailers, apparel, restaurants, home, books, luxury items and toys.
- On iPads and tablets, searches for TV and movie terms are most popular, as well as investing and real estate (perhaps because these devices are owned by more affluent users).
How to Change to Reach Your Mobile Audience
The importance of connecting through Internet search is a message I have repeated over and over again in this blog. Mobile search is becoming an increasingly crucial part of that equation. Most mobile users are very frustrated by content that is not optimized for their phones and tablets. Here are some basic tips to ensure your website and content is mobile search friendly:
- If your content/business is tied to a specific geographic location make sure you are in Google Places.
- Have a mobile version of your website that has fast loading, simple, text focused pages with a unique mobile URL structure (i.e. mobile.yourdomain.com) and straightforward navigation.
- Focus these mobile pages on shorter keyword phrases then you might for desktop search.
- To keep things simple start with HTML5 which provides mobile friendly programming for video and interactive elements on your site (avoid Flash).
- Make sure your mobile site is fully integrated with social media to make it as easy as possible to bookmark and share your content.
- Watch your website metrics and keep track of what mobile platforms are accessing your content and keep them happy (especially if you want to start developing apps).
- Create a mobile sitemap to use for search engine submissions.
Remember that mobilizing your video and website is not just about swapping Flash for HTML5. It is about adapting your content to the device, and creating a different kind of user experience that is informed by why and how your audience is searching and connecting via smartphone or tablet.
Do you have any other questions, resources, tips or insight about mobile search marketing? Please post below or send them via email to annelise(at)veria.ca or on Twitter @veriatweet.
Or revisit the previous issue: Big Picture Thinking: How to Market Your Independent Production Company