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How The Mobile Phone Has Changed The Rules of The Game

The mobile phone has reshaped us, and in particular, our search habits. With characteristic changes on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP), how should you position your brand to safeguard its visibility?

Here’s an example. I’m looking for a lunch place and I recall reading an article on Facebook on good Thai restaurants around the area. I pull out my smartphone and search “thai restaurants near me”. I read the reviews, find the location and the opening hours – just by scrolling, no clicks at all.

screen-shot-2016-10-25-at-10-42-42-amWhether we are making a small or big-ticket item purchase, we reflexively turn to “Google it”. This is what is also known as ‘micro-moments’ (What is the best way to solve my problem? Where can I get it?)

These are opportunities and are definitely critical for brands of most sorts.

93% of the people turn to their devices for ideas while completing a task.

This means that regardless of whether you are an e-commerce or a traditional store owner, you should be paying attention to mobile SEO. What users read on the go will influence their purchase decision right to the very last minute while waiting in the checkout line.

Micro-moment Searches On The Mobile

The term micro-moment is coined by Google to depict the rising phenomenon of a fragmented consumer journey, where words like “how to”, “where to” and “closest” becomes increasingly common.

In micro-moments:

  • People evaluate purchase decisions:
    82% of users turn to their smartphone for assurance to influence their purchase
  • People solve unexpected problems:
    62% of users are likely to take action right away because their smartphone gave them solutions to
  • People pursue big goals:
    90% of users have used their smartphones to make progress toward a long-term goal
  • People try new things:
    91% of users turn to their smartphone for ideas while doing a task

“Near me” searches have increased by 34 fold since 2011, as reported by Google.

Micro-moments are the break-or-make-it moments for brands. Users already (1) have a perception of you (2) are looking for assurance or (3) are forming first impressions. Either way, you want to ensure that your brand / business remains at the top of their minds.

So how do you go about doing just that? The design of the SERP has changed. A “near me” search will now fill your page with direct answers, ads, images, site links and the Knowledge Graph panel. Now, just by scrolling, 50-60% of the sentiments of your brand are already created before a click. 

Are you rethinking about your branding efforts? Because what this means for your business, is that you should appeal to your audience by earning as much mobile screen real estate as possible.

Smartphones have impacted both mobile and desktop searches.

The habitual change that has happened is so fundamentally important that the Vice President of Business Development at Mediative has been conducting eye-tracking studies on the SERP since 2003. His findings about mobile SERP trends actually translate to desktop SERP habits as well.

SERP-Eye-Tracking
Image credit: Mediative

Users now scan the SERP vertically more than horizontally. This suggests that they are now viewing more search listings during a single session, but are spending less time viewing one.

The findings have also highlighted clear trends on selective exposure. Users have higher expectations for relevant results and they perceive organic listings to be more useful. However, with a Knowledge Graph in panel, 22% fewer clicks went to the top No. 1 organic listing.

With increased functionalities of smartphones, you can say that users are simply becoming adept at using the SERP. Expectations for search results have shifted, with the change of search behaviors brought about by mobile.

“SERP changes happen to mobile first — therefore it’s in SEO’s best interest to constantly be monitoring the mobile SERP landscape” – Dr. Pete Meyers, SERP Scientist from Moz

Reviews, not just the stars that matter

Remember, users are now more selective and well, investigative. They not only pay attention to the overall ratings (i.e. the sparkly stars ratings), but they are ready to drill down to the very comments that real users are saying.

screen-shot-2016-10-25-at-12-57-34-pm

Your reviews from key platforms will appear on the Knowledge Graph. If you need more information, we’ve previously listed some of the tools and ways your business can be updated on the SERP here.

Speedy Searches Satisfies Souls…

Expectations are pretty high with mobile users. You have to deliver all the right information optimally or they are just going to abandon your site.

What works fine for your desktop might not necessarily translate into user-friendliness on mobile. And it’s not just about being mobile responsive. Here’s an example to illustrate my point:

A Webpage from a Thai Restaurant Webpage
Screenshots from a Thai Restaurant Webpage

This particular mobile experience had me sold. It welcomes me with flattering visuals of Thai food, helps me decide if the meal is within my budget, tells me where to go and, wait for it – gives me the phone number to book a reservation. *takes out my money*

Good news is, you can use the Accelerated Mobile Pages Project (AMP) by Google to give users that experience. This should have you rethink your site content to better mobilize the game-changing search experience.

If you’re not convinced, it has been reported that Google will be dividing its index, so ranking algorithms will reward mobile content rather than extracting data from the desktop (psst, and this is happening within months!).

Integrate em’ strategies

With such convoluted purchase pathways, your marketing plan shouldn’t be in neat boxes. You’ll have to think about integrating relevant channels, and optimizing them for mobile friendly features.

If you’d like to find out more how your business can integrate Social Media, Organic SEO and Paid Media to improve your mobile marketing, reach out to us at here!

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Zachary is a Business Development Executive in Appiloque. In the after-hours, he serves as a Division Agent, taking back the city of New York when all else fails.

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