14 Jul

Mobile & Voice Search: Transforming User Behavior & Business – Part 1

Mobile & Voice Search: Transforming User Behavior & Business - Part 1

Mobile search is an evolving branch of information retrieval services that is centered on the convergence of mobile platforms and mobile phones, or that it can be used to tell information about something and other mobile devices. Web search engine ability in a mobile form allows users to find mobile content on websites which are available to mobile devices on mobile networks. As this happens mobile content shows a media shift toward mobile multimedia.

Simply put, mobile search is not just a spatial shift of PC web search to mobile equipment but is witnessing more of treelike branching into specialized segments of mobile broadband and mobile content, both of which show a fast-paced evolution.

Mobile search is important for the usability of mobile content for the same reasons as internet search engines became important to the usability of internet content. Early internet content was largely provided by portals such as Netscape. As the depth of available content grew, portals were unable to provide total coverage. As a result Internet, web search engines such as Google and AltaVista proved popular as a way of allowing users to find the increasingly specialist content they were looking for.

In an international journal article, ‘Exploring the logic of mobile search’, Westlund, Gómez-Barroso, Compañó, and Feijóo (2011) outline a thorough review of research on mobile search usage, and also present an in-depth study of user patterns. They conclude that mobile search has started to change mobile media consumption patterns radically. They also emphasize that future developments of the mobile search must be sensitive to the mobile logic.

QUICK STATS – I

  • 60% of online traffic now comes from smartphones and tablets
  • 50% of all search users begin their search on a mobile device
  • 50% of mobile user activity results in a purchase
  • 173,000,000 people in the U.S. own a smartphone
  • 93,000,000 own internet-connected tablets
  • 125% is the growth rate of mobile traffic vs. 12% for desktop
  • 88% of mobile search is for a local business or establishment

Types of mobile search

Within the broad umbrella of mobile search (the ability to browse for mobile specific content), there is a range of services. Given the relative immaturity of the market, not all of these can be expected to become the industry standards.

Mobile optimized search engines

Most major search engines have implemented a mobile optimized version of their products that take into consideration bandwidth and form factor limitations of the mobile platform. For example, Google has launched a mobile-friendly version of their search engine. The algorithms for mobile search engine results are thought to be evolving and aspects such as location and predictive searching will become increasingly important.

Mobile question and answer services

These services allow a user to text a question to a central database and receive a reply using text. A usage example would be a user that wants to know the answer to a very specific question but is not in front of his/her computer. Most mobile ‘Q&A’ services are powered by human researchers and are therefore a type of organic search engine. A new approach by AskMeNow and MobileBits is to use Semantic Web technology to automate the process.

Mobile directory search

This service is known by different names dependent on country and operator. It can also be known as ‘Find My Nearest’ or ‘Mobile Yellow Pages’ services. The basics of the services allow users to find local services in the vicinity of their current location. The services often use location-based technology to pinpoint exactly where the user currently is.

An example of usage would be a user looking for a local cab or taxi company after a night out. Services also usually come with a map and directions to help the user. An example is a service offered by Yell in the UK which is powered by MobilePeople’s technology.

Mobile navigation services

These services provide the indexing structure to the portals provided by mobile operators. They index the content already on the operators’ portal but also provide users access to mobile-specific content that is available outside the confines of the portal.

QUICK STATS – II

83% of consumers using mobile to research make the purchase within a day
81% of people prefer mobile for its convenience and speed
80% time using smartphones spent on apps rather than mobile browsers
80% of smartphone owners use their device in stores to shop
60% of consumers use mobile exclusively to make purchase decisions
60% of digital time is spent on mobile devices vs. 40% for desktops

A New Beginning

Mobile traffic has multiplied tremendously over the past two years, and this makes each and every visitor a precious online resource you cannot ignore. This fact was masterfully underscored earlier this year, due to Google’s mobile algorithm that was somewhat ominously given the protologism ‘Mobilegeddon’. This name was given by webmasters and web developers for the update of April 21, 2015. The main effect of this update is to give priority to websites that display well on smartphones and other mobile devices. The change does not affect searches made from a desktop computer or a laptop.

The details of Mobbilegeddon are in the public domain now and we have learned that it has created an important effect on mobile search results. The numerous websites that had neglected to be mobile friendly fell off the rankings like nine pins. The writing is on the wall, and it boldly states: turnaround and utilizes crucial mobile web development practices before it’s too late.

But what factors encouraged Google to work along the lines of providing an exceptional mobile search experience for users? The answer to that question lies in the staggering numbers of mobile phone users who number a whopping 4.43 billion individuals across the globe. Out of this figure, an estimated 1.84 billion people use smartphones. Translated, this points to statistics that reveal that half of all local searches are done on mobile devices.

So what should a business do in this scenario? Simple. Just follow these steps and ensure that you’re in the clear:

  • It is critical to immediately configure websites for mobile
  • Having done so, enable search engines to make sense of your website configuration
  • Ensure that you do not fall victim to the regular set of errors in this process

In order to help companies achieve the desired goal, Google has magnanimously presented a mobile SEO guide that is a DIY manual-of-sorts. Browse the Internet for more details in this regard. Once you’ve followed the steps, take the online ‘Mobile-Friendly Test’ to ascertain that your website passes with flying colors!

Mobile SEO Best Practices

Pay Close Attention to User Experience

RESPONSIVE WEB DESIGN: Responsively designed websites use CSS3 media queries to serve the same content to mobile and desktop users using a fluid grid and a flexible design to automatically adapt to the size of a user’s screen.

PAGE SPEED: Beyond optimizing images, you’ll want to minimize code, leverage browser caching, and reduce redirects.

SCROLL: Mobile devices are simplifying and revolutionizing the ways sites are designed. “Above the fold” no longer has to mean in a world where we scroll endlessly.

FAT FINGERS: Accidental clicks occur if your buttons are too big, too small, or in the path of a finger that’s trying to get the page to scroll.

CLICK TO CALL: Make it easy for users to get in touch with a touch rather than having to read, remember and dial your business.

APP: Mobile users prefer Apps. For an established brand, an App can be a major advantage for user experience and SEO. Fortunately, apps can now be optimized for search in both Google and Bing.

DON’T USE FLASH: The plugin may not be available on your user’s phone, which means they’ll miss out on all the fun. If you want to create special effects, use HTML5 instead.

DON’T USE POP-UPS: It can be difficult and frustrating to try and close these on a mobile device. This might lead to a high bounce rate.

SHORTER KEYWORD PHRASES: Physical search query input are more challenging when typing on a tiny keyboard. Mobile users enter shorter phrases.

VOICE RECOGNITION: Search engines and mobile device manufacturers have invested heavily in voice recognition capabilities to ease the mobile input burden. Ask the Google App works in 38 languages.

LOCAL DIRECTORIES: Register in local business directories so mobile users and search engine know where you can be found.

In the concluding part of this blog post we will dwell on the rise of voice search and its importance, and round our journey off by analyzing Google’s contributions in the field.

(To be continued)