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Mobile Matters

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How Google Can Help Your Business Build a Mobile Website

by: | November 11, 2011

Another holiday shopping season is now upon us, and this year more than ever before, smart shoppers are turning to smartphones. Mobile retail traffic is expected to more than double this season, with 15 percent of U.S consumers who log on to retailer websites during the next several weeks doing so via mobile device, according to a new IBM Coremetrics Benchmark forecast.

Consumers are already migrating from the desktop to the mobile platform: Almost 11 percent of consumer visits to retailer websites in October 2011 originated on a mobile device, up from 4.2 percent a year earlier. Mobile transactions accounted for 9.6 percent of online sales last month, increasing from 3.4 percent in October 2010. Apple’s iPhone yielded 4 percent of retail traffic in October, followed by Google Android devices at 3.5 percent—Apple’s iPad tablet is also impacting digital commerce trends, with sales conversion rates on iPads reaching 6.8 percent in October, almost double the overall mobile device conversion rate of 3.6 percent.

Just imagine how much more impressive those statistics would be if more retailer websites were fully optimized for mobile device screens. Most business sites don’t render correctly on smartphones, of course, but Google is working to change that. The search and advertising giant is rolling out GoMo, a new initiative designed to help businesses build mobile-targeted sites that load quickly and function seamlessly, with no pinching and zooming required.

Google’s howtogomo.com website includes the GoMoMeter, a test tool that illustrates how your business site currently looks on a smartphone, complete with a report on what’s working and what isn’t. GoMo also boasts a wealth of information on recommended vendors who can help SMBs roll out mobile sites—business owners can plug in their answers to variables like full service or DIY options, annualized cost, and timeframe for build. Also featured: Signup details for the Google Places and Google Mobile Ads platforms.

For anyone still struggling to identify the differences between the desktop and its mobile counterpart (beyond the obvious screen-size discrepancies, of course), the GoMo site additionally compiles a list of common-sense best practices that all SMBs should adopt. The most salient recommendations:

  • Keep It Quick (with sites that load quickly and prioritize the content and features users need most)
  • Simplify Navigation (by minimizing scrolling and offering clear back and home buttons)
  • Be Thumb-Friendly
  • Make It Accessible (by finding alternatives to Adobe Flash and leveraging the HTML5 web standard for interactive content and animation)
  • Make It Local (by including maps, directions, inventory checks and GPS-enabled features).

If you’re a SMB based in Mobile, Ala., then you’re really in luck: Google is also launching Mobilizing Mobile, a series of events geared to helping local businesses of all sizes expand to the mobile channel. Google executives will host a series of mobile marketing-themed events and seminars, and even offer free hosting for a year.

“When we started thinking how to encourage businesses to build mobile-ready websites, we realized that it would be powerful to mobilize an entire city that could serve as a model for the rest of country—and the world,” writes Google Mobile Ads Marketer staffer Jesse Haines on the Google Mobile Ads Blog. “Initially, we were drawn to Mobile because of the fun alliteration, which we thought would draw the attention of business leaders in and outside the area. Looking beyond the name, though, we found a city with a wide range of industries, an incredible level of business growth and a well-developed infrastructure— and a place where we could quickly make a real impact.”

Cute, clever marketing schemes notwithstanding, Google is serious about building a better mobile web for consumers and small businesses alike. Are you?Marketing Zeus

Posted in: B2C, Branding, Campaign Development, Content, E-Commerce, Link Building, Local, Mobile Advertising, Mobile Development, Mobile Matters, Optimization, Usability

About the Writer:

Jason Ankeny is the executive editor of the FierceMobileContent and FierceDeveloper e-newsletters as well as a regular contributor to Entrepreneur magazine and the website All Music Guide. Additional credits include efforts for publications including Rolling Stone, Wax Poetics and No Depression, along with liner notes for a number of album releases. He lives in Chicago.

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