Optimizing for Mobile & Local Search

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Mobile is blowing up! According to recent data by comScore, 72.5 million people in the US own smarthphones. That is a 15% growth from the preceding three-month period. Not only has smartphone ownership increased, but data usage is up as well. In Q1, 2011 the average smartphone user consumed 435 MB of data compared to 230 MB in Q1 2010, an 89% increase (source: Nielsen).

It is very clear that consumption of content on mobile devices is growing and isn’t going to slow down anytime soon. As a small business owner, how do you take advantage of this current shift to mobile? Here are four ways you can optimize your website in order to gain more traffic, customers and revenue through the mobile and local channels.

Make sure your business information is consistent and updated across the web

If your business has recently moved, you’ll want to check the web for old addresses. You can do this by typing your business name, business address and phone number in quotations into your favorite search engine.

yext bing resultIf you do see any results that contain out-dated business information you’ll want to update it if possible. If the specific website doesn’t allow you to update your business information manually, you can try sending an e-mail to the webmaster of the site asking nicely for them to update your information.

It also might be worth sending an intra-office email with the name, address and phone information you want to distribute publicly. If your business has more than one phone number or more than one address you’ll want to make sure you are consistent across all of your business materials. This includes sales documents, marketing materials, press release, etc.

Use many descriptive photos

I wrote an entire blog post about this yesterday, but if your business isn’t using photos to enhance your listings then you are really missing out.

Although it is incredibly easy to snap photos from your phone or point and shoot, if you have the budget you might want to consider splurging for a photographer. You can probably find a pretty decent photographer willing to photograph your business for a few hundred dollars. Once other businesses start to catch on to the power of photographs, you’ll already be one step ahead with you’re high-quality shots.

tom and jerrys photosYou could also try using photos taken by customers. Encourage your visitors to tag your business on Facebook, or offer a special to customers who send in their favorite photographs of your business.

Don’t just use one or two photographs. The more detail you can share in your photos with someone browsing your business online, the more likely they are to engage with you and become a customer.

Add a little flavor to your listings

Once again, it’s all about standing out from the pack. What sets your business apart from the rest? Do you offer free Wifi? Instead of simply stating “Free Wifi” how about mixing it up and letting searcher know that “Free WiFi, e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter Oh My!”

Encourage customers to check-in

As mobile usage increases so will the usage of location based services. Foursquare and Yelp are just two specific channels you can take advantage of to increase traffic to your business. The search engines are becoming better and better at incorporating social information into their search results. Is there a relevant result that one of my friends recommended? If so, that is going to be presented higher on the results page.

Encourage users to check-in by placing Foursquare and Yelp stickers on your windows. Maintain an active Twitter account and engage in conversations with your customers. Offer specials to your Facebook fans.

foursquare stickers

What strategies do you use to get people to interact with your business? Let us know in the comments below!

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