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by Stephen Logan on 18th February 2010
People aren’t just accessing your site from their desktop PCs any more. They aren’t even just searching on Google or Bing. The mobile Internet is exploding and is bringing with it whole new ways of accessing and interacting with the web.
In the early days of WAP phones, the mobile Internet was little more than a novelty. Accessible sites were few and far between, bandwidth was lower than dial up and networks charged extortionate rates for using it. Today, all this has changed.
Mobile phones are more popular, more technically advanced and more connective than they have ever been. The development of smartphones – think the iPhone, Nokia N95, Google Nexus One – have kicked off an evolutionary leap in how we interact mobiles and the specification that they can now offer. Now they have greater memory, larger, higher resolution touch screens and internet connectivity.
Freeing Up the Mobile Internet
But far from being an elitist technology, the mobile Internet is available to most devices, quite often for free. With this increase in availability and access, has come an equally large boom in the demand for web applications, sites and tools to make best use of this technology.
Modern phones have a distinct advantage over their desktop rivals, they are entirely mobile. We take them wherever we go and can fire up the Internet within seconds, wherever we might be. Equally advantageous is the associated technology on board. Most include a camera and GPS technology of some standard; this of course represents a unique opportunity, one which the online giants are now trying to cash in on.
Google’s announcement that it is a ‘mobile-first company’, which we covered yesterday [see: Google to Focus Attention on Mobile Search Advertising], is a statement of intent. The traditional internet powerhouses are taking this growing market seriously. Not only does it present a new opportunity for revenue, but it will also help them develop their brand and the services that they can offer visitors.
Marketing Your Site on Mobile Search
Marketers too need to be aware of the power of the mobile Internet. Suddenly there is an opportunity to replace email campaigns with targeted SMS campaigns, with integrated media, links and contact details. Businesses can reach out to users within their vicinity by sending out coupons and offers, just by using the location settings of a phone and its online capabilities.
Local search is certainly one of the key selling factors of the mobile web. You can access information on the businesses within your vicinity, opening hours, services and products, within seconds. Being in the area, you can then go and visit their premises or give them a call – using your mobile of course. Local search is an aspect that Eric Schmidt was particularly at pains to highlight during his speech earlier this week. It is perhaps the greatest opportunity afforded by the mobile web and mobile search in particular.
In terms of the more proven methods, SEO and PPC advertising remain as competitive and reliable. Getting your mobile-friendly site to the top of Google still holds that same prestige. So too does attracting targeted traffic through your paid search campaigns.
Paid Mobile Search Adverts
Mobile search PPC is certainly one area where some have been slow to react. Where some advertisers have chosen to simply pile all of their efforts into Google AdWords, their mobile equivalent doesn’t have the same level of competition. With less competition, you stand a better chance of getting a better ranking and won’t have to bid as much for the privilege. So you can save money, gain traffic and improve your brand profile – what isn’t to like?
The problem you have to create a mobile-friendly site. No small task. A dedicated mobile site will cost money, whilst altering your current domain could affect the performance of your site elsewhere. Some will see this as a gamble too far. Whilst the benefits mentioned above are attractive, they don’t offer the same guaranteed results of standard online marketing techniques.
Take Advantage of a Growing Market
But if you are going to take a chance and get a head start on your competitors, now could be the time. The explosion may have happened, but the reaction to it has been surprisingly slow. The smartphone market is set to experience some heavyweight tussles in the coming year, with the iPod having to fend off the (Internet orientated) Google Nexus One and Microsoft’s Windows 7 phone. This is a very serious market, and one that is set to continue expanding.
Whilst the mobile Internet won’t completely overtake its static predecessor any time soon, it does offer fantastic opportunities. Here is a growing market, one ripe with unique opportunities and that hasn’t already been completely saturated. The fact that Google, the world’s biggest technology company, is giving the mobile web its undivided attention would suggest that this might be time for you to do the same.
At the very least get your business on Google Maps. Make sure you are showing up in your immediate surroundings and target the right keywords for what you have to offer. If you can’t produce a mobile friendly site, the least you can do is have a listing on the Google Mobile SERPs within their Maps; including all of your contact details of course for the more inquisitive mobile user.
Mobile phones have freed up the Internet. They are the fully integrated communication device needed to carry it on to the next generation – web 2.1 if you will. I would venture to suggest that It would take a particularly brave marketer or webmaster to entirely discount this as a potential traffic source. It can only grow, with or without your site.