The Growth of Mobile Users and Mobile SEO

When I was a kid I loved watching Star Trek. The idea of mini computers you could hold in your hand (called tricorders and communicators) to communicate, interact with the environment and to use as a medical tool seemed so futuristic. All I ever wanted as a kid was my own tricorder.

Fast forward to 2013 and while we still don’t have transporters, the whole idea or concept of a tricorders and communicators are old school as the worlds population use something far more advanced… A Smart Phone!

A man searching for another way

Although the text on their phones is way harder to read than the text on a regular PC, users feel the need to connect anytime, anywhere and is a major player driving technology right now.

They just NEED to update their Facebook status right away, tweet about the traffic, upload a picture of their fancy dinner, take a selfie to Instagram it, or check in on Foursquare at a fastfood chain. And while you used to do that on your desktop (just a few years ago), using your desktop in younger eyes is seen as and archaic thing of the past.

The Cold Hard Data On Smartphones

A recent survey (from BI Intellegence) supports this dramatic increase of smart phone users.

Global Internet Device Sales Chart

Although Ericsson were the first phone company to release what they called a ’Smart Phone’ in 1997, noticeable growth started in 2005 and then rapid growth in 2007 with the introduction of the first iPhone.

This started a massive upward spike to the end of 2011, where Smartphone sales outnumbered the sale of desktop computers. This trend is expected to continue as users shift away from desktops and laptops, toward Smart phones and tablets (as you can see by the sharp growth of laptops).

Global Internet Device Sales Survey Results

The rapid growth of smart phones can be accredited to the new sleek designs, new applications, better mobile OS, more affordable prices, Convenience and User Experience.

Even more recently, the heated competition between Apple and Android is making things better for consumers as they get better products and better choices as both companies try to out do each other.

What Do Users Do With Their Mobiles?

Many smartphone users have an ongoing relationship with their phone. Their phone is the first thing they see in the morning and the last thing they look at before they go to sleep. Whether on the toilet or out for a walk, people feel the need to stay ‘CONNECTED!’

So, what are the top activities people do on mobile devices?

Mostly, they play games, listen to music, share and look at pictures, engage social networks like Facebook and Twitter, browsing the Internet and watch movies.

It’s important to note that people are also shopping more using their phones. This is a combination of reference shopping (reviews, investigating, forums) designed to form an opinion of their final purchase or decision. For businesses, this still means huge opportunities to expand reach online as long as you’re developing a smart phone strategy as a part of your overall plan.

U.S. Smartphone Owners Activity in Retail Stores Survey Results

Designing and SEO for Mobile

When it comes to SEO and mobile, there are a few ‘house keeping’ rules to consider to ensure your online presence is optimised for a smaller device, but also to make it as easy as possible for the search engines to find.

Fortunately the search engines are pretty transparent when it comes to what they want and Google have released a whole bunch of literature around the subject.

A few points from their documentation:

Google uses a different bot or spider for mobile sites. You may have a mobile version of your website, but are you sure it’s being crawled by Google? For mobile sites, Google is using Googlebot-Mobile for indexing pages.

If it’s a new mobile site, you can submit a sitemap to Google Webmaster Tools just like you would in the case of a regular website.

Test against site:operator to check if your mobile site is being crawled. If the mobile site is not appearing, it could be that something is blocking Google’s mobile crawler. Make sure that you are allowing Googlebot-Mobile to access your site.

No flash support. Some videos are not playing on some smartphones because the platform does not support flash. Furthermore flash is not as transparent to the search engines (and is old clunky technology). In order to offer a more universal experience (and make it easier for the search engines) you should consider other Search Engine compliant technologies (like HTML 5).

Serving different URLs. The mobile version of a site can be structured in many ways, but one of the more common methods is to place the mobile version under a different URL path, for example You could potentially end up creating 2 sites under the same URL.

The search engines are very specific here and would prefer the same content on the 2 sites. If you are optimising for a more compact experience on your mobile version, use the same content snippets to ensure Google don’t think you’re trying to fool them in some way.

One last point… If you are cross-referencing within your site, you have to make sure that your mobile version links to a desktop-enabled site. This will allow your end user to visit your desktop version, and will also allow Google to access (and cross reference the 2 versions easily.

Is Responsive Design the Answer?

Currently, there is no single standard for mobile friendly web page design. Google’s number 1 recommendation for mobile sites is the responsive design. Basically, responsive design adjusts the presentation of the webpage depending on the resolution of the device.

In responsive design, you are only using one HTML and serving one URL for the desktop and mobile version. This is made possible by some changes in the CSS (this is the code that defines the layout of the site). For example, instead of using the ‘width’ attribute, you use ‘max-width’, and instead of ‘height’, ‘min-height’ is used.

This makes it less complicated to deal with Google crawlers. Because there’s only one URL for both desktop and mobile versions, it’s also easier for users to interact with your website. There won’t be any need for complicated redirects.

If you want a quick illustration of how responsive design works, check out the redesigned About Google page or the Chromebooks page. You can even test this on your desktop. When you decrease the size of your browser (try making the browser narrower), the page will render as it would on a smaller screen like on a smartphone or a tablet.


You will still face issues with the responsive design because needless to say, web development, whether for desktop or mobile, is never easy. You will need all the help you can get to make the mobile site deployment a success.

The internet is going mobile. If your business has not adapted to the mobile revolution, you risk losing important audience and customers.


* special thanks to Business Insider for the data reference slides


SEO, SEM and Social

Over the last decade business owners have built a website with the idea of getting extra business, especially as they try to compete during tougher economic times.

There’s a growing trend of ‘Smart Business Owners’ that seek the help of online experts to make their websites perform well on the web, ensuring they are actually able to compete with millions of other websites trying to catch the attention of potential customers and clients.

Reality Tip #1 – ‘In today’s business world, without any online solution, a website will simply end up lying around the Internet without anyone ever noticing it.’

Is Search Engine Optimisation the Golden Key?

One of the more common online solutions is seen in search engine optimisation (SEO), whose main goals include ranking a site and attracting more traffic. But any skilled SEO company realise that these are 2 small parts of a bigger puzzle and the main objective is to use other elements of SEO.

Search engine marketing (SEM), and recently, social media are two solutions that contribute to SEO and the success of a business website.

Different Thrusts, Same Purpose

SEO, SEM, and SMM, Effective online marketing strategies

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Social Media Marketing (SMM) are usually treated as separate entities, but in reality, all these three are part of a solid overall online strategy.

Effective online marketing happens when you make use of all avenues to reach out to customers and turn site visitors into paying customers. SEO, SEM and SMM are some of the key avenues to take.

The trick for the online marketer is to understand ‘how to’ integrate all three of these different strategies, adjusting and fine-tuning the marketing move based on the type of business.


Simply put, SEM is paying for your site to be listed on search engine and online directories. You can easily identify them with the small ‘Ads by Google’ or on the search engines you’ll notice they’re a different colour.

 SEO and SEM as seen in Google's search results

The idea behind SEM is quite a contrast with SEO as it’s usually based on a ‘Paid Per Click’ model. You would normally set a daily budget and once it runs out your online presence disappears till the next day.

SEO on the other hand is ‘Earned’ in the respect that it usually takes longer to get to the top, but once you’re there, you stay there (with ongoing maintenance).

SEM and SEO are not conflicting entities. In fact, they should really be used hand-in-hand, each helping the other to improve the site’s online presence.

For instance, if there are keywords that are generating a lot of leads through paid search only, you may have to put more effort into optimising them for your organic search. The same goes for SEM.

If you are finding some keywords generating leads from organic search results, you can intensify your marketing by using those keywords for SEM. This will help you make sure that you’re not missing out on any potential revenues from SEM.

In summary, when used together they can turn your site into a money making machine

Reality Tip #2 – ‘Avoid placing all of your eggs in one basket…’

Making Social Platforms Work for Your SEO

Social media is really the in thing right now.

Statistics show more and more people are engaging in social networks, and as a result social media has (and will increasingly) become an integral part of online marketing and SEO. Google have officially announced that they use ‘Social Signals’’ as a part of their algorithm.

In Google’s own words:

‘Yes, we do use [Twitter] as a signal. It is used as a signal in our organic and news rankings. We also use it to enhance our news universal by marking how many people shared an article.’

And Also:

‘We treat links shared on Facebook fan pages the same as we treat tweeted links.’


Social Butterfly Dog

The Best Suited Social Strategy

The right social strategy will also ensure you are attracting visitors through social platforms, but it will also support your SEO activities.

Although Google are proving to pay special attention to Twitter and Google +, there is also no single winner in social media that you should be prioritising. Just because Facebook has the highest number of subscribers in the world, does not mean you should only be making your business social there or give in to the notion that Facebook is king.

Many online users prefer one social network for another. Some social networks are geared towards a certain group of people and for certain industries.

If you have very eye-candy products, decors, DIY related services and other picture-worthy products and services, you can be successful socialising on Pinterest and integrate that with Facebook and other social networks.

If your business is targeting professionals and businessmen, you can find them well-connected in LinkedIn. They could be on there looking for the exact services that you are offering.

Facebookers like checking in online, so your motel or hotel business could get extra leverage as users thumb up your services and product offerings.

Evaluate and plan your social media engagement first before you go invest time and money. 

Make sure that you are making the most of the social media platform and that they are positively contributing to your overall SEO strategy.

Holistic Makes All the Difference

When looking to improve your online presence, the most important criteria you will need to consider is if the expert you are hiring uses a holistic approach to SEO.

SEO is not only about making your website appear good on search engines. It also has to do with the overall performance of your site.

You could be doing well on search, but may be failing to translate that success into real revenues.

Is your site transforming visitors into customers? Does your site have the right prompt for potential customers to contact you? And does it have an aggressive and effective social presence to engage and encourage customers to talk about and avail of your products and services? All these can easily be regarded as separate thrusts, but in fact, they all should be conceptualised as parts of a whole.


Your SEO, SEM and SMM must be thought of as interactive parts of the plan.

SEO, SEM and SMM are all parts of the puzzle

It could well be that you are doing great on social platforms, but when visitors and customers go to your site, there are a lot of navigational hiccups that are discouraging users to continue doing business with you.

If you are putting all your money into SEM and ignoring your website, the paid search investments are useless.

 Reality Tip #3 – ‘Even your focus of your online presence to get the maximum return…’

Online strategies are also not the same for all businesses. They must be planned according to the business type, so there are no strict rules that you can follow.

Ensure your Online Strategy is measurable allowing you to eliminate ineffective methods and fill in the gaps when necessary.

If you take anything away from reading this understand a holistic approach is more important when getting the maximum return for your business online.

SEO and Social Media – Is this the Missing Link

For the last 2 years, Google have pro-actively integrated social media (especially twitter) through ‘Google Realtime search’.

It shows the strength of social media, especially when comments are re-tweeted and in certain circumstances, shown in the Search Engine Results Pages.

Sounds like a good idea for a person searching on a certain topic? If a particular subject is trending at any given time and the social world is interested then Google will tell you about it in their results. This is great!

On the 3rd of July they decided to stop using Twitter as a factor in social media trends with no real explanation. As you can read in this post by Cyrus Shepard in SEO Moz the theoretical intention is to start using Google+ as the social medium to replace twitter. Here’s the article here –

In Cyrus’ article it shows a few examples of social media and its direct influence to the Search Engine Results Pages. The image below from this article demonstrates an example of pre 3rd July.

Will this impact my SEO and should I panic?

While this certainly demonstrates the importance of social media in any online campaign it doesn’t mean you should go out and set up a million campaigns and get a tonne of Google +1’s to your homepage. Aside from the fact that this is ‘black hat’ you’ll eventually get caught.

What it does demonstrate in some instances the importance of a solid social media profile and that it can potentially influence your position in the search engines. If you are serious in your online presence should you ensure you have a solid social platform? Maybe… in reality it could be overkill and you could end up spending a lot of time and money with your BDM or team member performing tasks that won’t actually give you any real measurable results.

Truth told, we are certainly recommending to certain clients that they look at their social media presence, especially if their SEO competition does the same and is doing it well.

Take a look at your competitors and see what they are doing. Like most Search Engines, in order to rank you don’t have to ‘do it all’; you simply have to do it a little better than your competition. By ensuring you’re keeping an eye on your competition (using social monitors) you’ll understand if now is the time to react, or if you should invest your time in other activities that offer a better return on investment.

Facebook and Microsoft team up to offer Videochat

By now if you’ve logged into your facebook account today you may have noticed a change to the chat layout, running down the right hand side.

This is the re-design in preparation of a big add-on feature Facebook are running in combination with Microsoft.

Skype, recently acquired by Microsoft are teaming up to offer video calling from within Facebook.

This will add another dimension to the social environment of Facebook and offer it’s members another way to stay in touch.


This is due to be launched in the next few weeks, but if you don’t want to wait you can get it now here –

You will see here – that the recent Google+ announcement will also offer group video conferencing, which they will call “hangouts”.

I think Microsoft are creating a nice niche for themselves and a way to move several brands forward. I was a little sceptical about the acquisition of Skype by Microsoft, but in hindsight it was a very smart move.

We really do live in great times. We have 3 of the world’s largest online presences fighting for our attention… Oh Joy.