Twenty years ago, when people thought of advertising, television and print ads or radio spots would come to mind. But that’s not the case in 2017. Today, if someone is marketing to you, they’re reaching out via social media, pay-per-click, or search engine ads. They’re collecting data on your internet activity and, based on that data, are targeting you for products and services in your search results and Facebook feed.

Online and mobile advertising has taken precedence for most marketing strategies. Even when people are watching television, their attention is often diverted to their smartphones during commercial breaks. The average American spends almost 90 hours a month on their mobile devices. If you don’t have a mobile ad campaign, that’s 90 hours a month that your potential customers are spending on your competitor’s sites.

Mobile use varies by age range and other demographics. Surprisingly, over 10% of Americans do not use a desktop at home, but rather use their smartphone. However, the frequency of mobile use is more common with people ages 18-29 in urban areas. Smartphone usage also increases with income and educational level.

Smartphone and tablet owners use their devices for much more than online search. Social media usage on mobile devices has skyrocketed. Other common mobile device sues include online banking, health, and fitness tracking, and eCommerce browsing and purchasing. There’s no limit to how companies can use mobile campaigns to reach their customers.

In order to create an effective mobile ad or mobile SEO campaign, you must understand the fundamental differences between mobile and desktop use.

Why You Should Optimize Everything for Mobile

Smartphones are no longer considered a high-end luxury product. Approximately 1.2 billion people now have smartphones. They’re commonly used for daily personal functions and can be found in business and even school settings. U.S. consumers spend an average of 20+ hours a week on mobile devices, browsing mobile sites and social media. And digital media is now consumed on mobile 20% more than on desktop.

This is great news for digital marketers and advertising platforms. Businesses can reach consumers when they’re at home, or when they’re out looking to shop. Local search is very popular on mobile devices, especially since most smartphones have navigational apps that correspond with mobile versions of search engines. However, companies still have room to grow in their mobile optimization and ad campaigns.

In 2014, mobile usage accounted for approximately 24% of media consumption. However, mobile ad spending accounted for only 8% of digital ad spending. Some companies are catching up to the trend, but this still poses an opportunity for companies to get ahead of the competition by increasing mobile ad spending.

An effective mobile optimization campaign starts with the right market research, and by creating mobile-friendly versions of a website and landing pages. Businesses that take the time to incorporate mobile strategies in their overall SEO campaigns have a better chance of engaging potential consumers and eventually converting them into happy customers.

How Mobile Data Helps You Find Your Target Audience

Consumers ages 18-34 spend an average of 20% on mobile as compared to less than 3% on desktop (December 2015). Contrast this to people ages 55+, who spend 26% of their time on a desktop, and only 7% on mobile, and you’ll see there is quite a bit of variation with mobile user demographics and target audiences. However, mobile users range from ages seven to 90. No industry or target audience is excluded from being affected by mobile advertising.

To figure out which of your customers are responding to your mobile SEO, you can look at your mobile site or app’s SDK data. An SDK (software development kit) is the set of tools an app or web developer uses to create certain functions for users. It also allows you to track user behavior on your site, to see what is most effective and what types of site visitors you’re attracting. Some web platforms will let you export and download this data.

After you’ve analyzed the data from your own mobile sites and web applications, you can create a lookalike audience for ad campaigns. Most lookalike audiences are developed through behavioral targeting. You target your ads at internet users with the same browsing behavior and interests, regardless of their age or other demographic indicators.

Using the lookalike audience, you can create custom ad targeting for search engines and social media campaigns. These platforms will also give you data on your desktop versus mobile users, to see which ads resonate better on certain devices over others. Platforms like Instagram and Facebook often do better with mobile ads, while Google AdWords perform better with desktop users. However, you structure your mobile targeting, be sure to include a variety of audience segments. No one group of customers is unlikely to respond to mobile ads.

Does This Affect SEO Strategies?

Many businesses believe that their websites easily transfer to mobile. But, unfortunately, most websites have not evolved to incorporate mobile and desktop-friendly versions within one site. The change in screen size often alters the content on a website, and the user’s ability to easily navigate sites on mobile screens. It’s recommended that most sites have completely separate site designs for smartphones and tablets.

When you optimize content and site design for mobile, your emphasis should be on user experience. On a desktop, long-form content is easy to read, but on mobile, it is often a distraction or disruption to visitors navigating the site. For this reason, much of your SEO strategy has to change when building a mobile-friendly version of your website.

The main difference is SEO strategy is your page design. Certain elements that can be useful on a desktop version shouldn’t be used for mobile design. Popups, small buttons, or anything that could interfere with scrolling should be eliminated from your mobile site. Visitors can get frustrated if they accidentally click on a link or can’t exit out of a popup. This especially hurts conversions if your checkout navigation is difficult to use.

You should also minimize text on mobile-versions of your site, including meta tags, titles, and page content. Instead of adding lengthy text, use videos and CTA buttons on mobile versions. Oftentimes, users browse the internet on their phones when they’re bored or don’t have the time to research something on their computer. They usually aren’t looking for long articles or product details – they will return to their desktop for this.

Local SEO is the second-most important part of mobile optimization. When users are on the road or trying to find a place to shop, they may turn to their smartphones for suggestions. In fact, over half of all mobile searches are for local results, and 61% of those users make a purchase after the local search. Ranking high in the search engines and having an easily navigable page will help those consumers find you. Most of them will then search a navigation app or review site, potentially comparing you to the competition.

Because mobile users spend less time per page during their search, you should optimize site speed as much as possible. There are a couple of easy ways to increase your site speed:

  • Minimize the size and quality of images to help increase their loading speed.
  • Only use one redirect – from the main site to your mobile version. Eliminate all other redirects if possible.
  • Eliminate as many plugins as possible, unless they are necessary for the page.
  • Prioritize “above the fold” content by splitting your CSS into two segments
  • Choose a faster hosting service, or switch servers if your site is still running slow.

Types of Content Users Want

While your mobile and desktop consumers may be the same demographic, they use their devices in different ways. Mobile users search online for reviews, menus, business locations, and entertainment. They rarely do in-depth research on products and services from their smartphones. However, you need to provide a variety of content to attract all types of mobile users at different stages in the buying process.

Users prefer images and video on mobile because they’re easier to see. GIFs and memes, if appropriate for your branding, can be a great way to engage consumers on social media (which accounts for over 90% of mobile users). These types of images and videos induce positive feelings for the viewer, which translated to a positive image of your brand in their minds. Humor and inspirational content work very well on social platforms. Audio content, such as a podcast, engages consumers even when they’re not directly engaged with their phone.

Other examples of content for mobile sites and social media:

  • Quotes (either in text-status or image form)
  • Introductory videos (replacing long-form text on landing pages)
  • Product demo videos
  • Video testimonials from customers
  • Live-streamed video
  • Infographics
  • Data visuals and diagrams
  • GIFs and Memes
  • Quizzes and Polls
  • Vlogs
  • Podcasts

Aside from social media, most smartphone owners use their devices primarily for email and apps. Almost ¾ of mobile users say they check emails on their phones. Email marketing is another content option for mobile users. Very few content marketers use mobile-responsive email templates for their campaigns, which means you can likely beat out the competition with a killer mobile email marketing campaign. Make sure you use highly-visual emails with graphics to encourage recipients to follow your CTAs.

The bottom line is, mobile users prefer visually appealing and easily-digestible content. Spend less time on a copy, and more time on great animation and graphic design for whatever types of mobile content you use.

Is Desktop Still Relevant?

Despite the boom in mobile usage, the desktop is still vital to your overall SEO campaign. Even with smartphones, most people use desktops for business and some personal use. Some people use their smartphones for everything, while others only use them when a desktop isn’t available. You need to be aware of your target demographic and how they incorporate mobile into their everyday lives.

Conversion rates on desktops are higher, but most consumers find you first on mobile. Users may visit your site or a social media profile on mobile but then return on a desktop to make the purchase or read more. Most use desktop for big-ticket items or for anything that requires a lengthy login or application process. If you’re selling a product that requires a longer decision-making process for most consumers, you need to put extra emphasis on your desktop version, so consumers feel comfortable buying online or contacting you for more.

Small items are easy to sell on mobile and social media (especially visually-focused platforms like Instagram). If an item costs less than $10, you have a good chance of selling it on a mobile site. Otherwise, you’ll need to capture the mobile visitor’s information or encourage them to contact you so you can follow up with buying options on a desktop application.

Integrating your mobile and desktop SEO strategies is the best approach to a successful campaign. While you’ll need to alter some elements of your website for mobile, the same principles apply to ranking high in the search engines and engaging consumers to guide them towards their first purchase. After you’ve built a following, your rankings will only continue to rise and your online reputation continues to grow.

Impress potential customers with positive reviews
Consumers look online before they contact a business or make purchases. Reviews, both good and bad, can shape a potential customer’s first impression. Reports show that 80% of consumers trust online reviews just as much as they do referrals from those they know. ORM campaigns can improve your online reviews so those first impressions are positive.

Improve job prospects
Poor online reputation can hurt job prospects. If an employer finds incriminating information about you in a Google search, they may toss out your application. However, if you have a strong online presence with a website and multiple professional social media profiles, they will be more likely to hire you.

Generate leads with proactive ORM
Proactive ORM helps with SEO and lead generation. Proactive ORM can include content marketing tactics that draw qualified customers to your content and brand. We’ll get into the differences between proactive and reactive ORM later, but know that a proactive approach (building brand reputation before a crisis event) will aid in your SEO and online lead generation campaigns.

Take control of your search engine results
Much of what’s on the internet is untrue or irrelevant. You don’t want third-party information to reach your audience instead of your own, especially if the information is false in some way. A proactive ORM campaign helps update the search engines with more relevant content about your brand that YOU control.

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