The use of mobile phones has exploded in recent years and there are now more than 5.6 billion phones on the Earth, almost as many as there are people on Earth. The mobile phone is no longer just a means of communication; it is a way to connect with others socially, send text and photo messages, search on the Internet, send and receive e-mails, get directions and maps for current locations, take photos and videos of important or silly events and even have a conversation with someone like John Malkovich.
And things are not slowing down but speeding up.
Here is one of the most important things that every business needs to realize when it comes to mobile phones: Can your business be found using mobile search? As your potential patients or customers are driving down the freeway at 65 miles per hour and they yell at their Bluetooth device, "Find a dentist," who shows up? It is astonishing how many business listings are incorrectly noted with old or outdated phone numbers, addresses, contacts, locations, etc. Many do not even have proper photos or directions.
Most businesses couldn't be found with a personalized mobile Google bot on steroids!
Look, you know that going online is a must for every business and is unavoidable. It's just so hard to keep up with one more thing to deal with. Your eyes get glazed over just thinking about trying to update anything. So, let's start with the basics.
The first place to go for any business is Google+. Really you ask? Yes. Google+ is going to become the business social center. It is determined to make a dent in Facebook's current standing, especially with business because money is involved and it isn't about the latest cat video.
There are at least three other major apps that people use to find local businesses in northern Nevada: Yelp.com, Foursquare.com, and Dibbs (at gotdibbs.com). They all know that this is the next battleground that needs to be won for the heart and soul of businesses who are listed online.
There will come a day when it will be more important to be found on the first page of the mobile listing than the current search engine listing on your computer. Why is that? It is predicted that 85 percent of all searches for products, services and businesses will be done from mobile phones before 2015.
I hope you just realize what you just read. That is a dramatic shift away from desktop and laptop computers towards mobile phones and iPad-like devices. These searches are not the same type of listing as "first page rankings" you are familiar with. It has to do with "proximity" to the user's actual physical location. Most mobile searches are for products and services that are close to where the users currently are while they are using their phones. The internal GPS gives away their location to the invisible satellites above.
That presents another major problem.
Most Web sites are set up for easy viewing on desktop or laptop computers with a minimum screen size of around 15 inches. They do not work well on three- or four-inch screens. Someone who finds your business' Web site that is not optimized for mobile viewing has to do a lot of scrolling, zooming and searching to find what they're looking for. In our increasingly impatient world it's very easy to lose a customer because of this.
Obviously this must be dealt with, but it isn't as complicated or expensive as you might think. To get a proper mobile version of your Web site can usually be done in less than a week,and it will be easily viewable on any device. Here are some things that you want to keep in mind:
* Make sure that very clear and proper information is easily viewable and is fairly large.
* They must be easy to navigate with large tabs that can be clicked on by a person's thumbs.
* It's best to have large, clearly marked buttons for the map, driving directions, "email us" and "call now" instructions.
It is also advisable that you have an easy way for people to shop and buy your products on their phones, as this is becoming the preference for more and more people. For those who charge for their services, the ability to take credit card and payment information on a phone has never been easier. Gone are the days for the need of a bulky credit card reader to swipe them as they can be easily slipped through a small device attached to your phone.
The costs associated with creating a mobile Web site from your existing Web site are fairly minimal and the advantages are obvious. In most cases the increase of just one new customer a year would cover the expense.
By following this advice you will be ready for the onslaught of the number of people trying to find your website on their phone. I have watched the analytics of a number of my customers and seen a rather rapid increase in the number of searches done from mobile phones. When I inform my customers about this they are always surprised because most of them did not think that anyone was searching for them on mobile phones. Most of them think that it's just for businesses like restaurants, bars, hair salons and gas stations.
That just isn't true anymore.
Kelly Smith is president of The WebSmith Group in Sparks. Contact him at 775-722-4949. or http://www.TheWebSmithGroup.com.