James Royal-Lawson


2010: Tipping point for mobile web

The hype and popularity of iPhones (as well as Blackberrys and Android-based devices) has thrown smartphones and the mobile internet into the mainstream. For most, if not all, of the previous decade the mobile web was an niche thing, something that most companies completely (and safely) ignored. It’s no longer a niche market, and for a increasing number of markets it can’t be ignored.

148% increase in 2009

In Quantcast’s 2009 mobile web trends report they show that mobile web usage has again more than doubled, just as it did in 2007 and 2008. Mobile internet usage still only accounts for 1.26% of global web usage, but at the rapid rate it is increasing many web sites will be seeing 1 in 10 visits being made via handheld devices in the not too distant future.

Graph taken from the Quantcast report

Google Trends

The explosion in mobile web can be further underpinned by Google Trends. Here is a graph generated from the number of searches made for five leading smartphones related keywords (iPhone, Android, HTC, Pre, Blackberry).

graph from Google Trends

How does your site fair?

When your target audience comes into contact with your web presence via a handheld device, it’s a significantly different experience for a number of obvious reasons – the most significant two being screen size, and in many situations and applications; speed.

Different surfing process

Technological limitations aside, the entire surfing process is re-written forcing mobile internet users to adopt different searching and browsing strategies to those they would employ when browsing via their regular Internet connection.

40% of mobile page views not Apple

One such change to the surfing process is the use of applications to deliver content that would normally be viewed on a website, accessed via a web browser. Given Apple’s market share, It’s not bad thing, but It’s worth highlighting that fulfilling your mobile web strategy by an iPhone application alone, may not be cost effective or optimal. A more open and generic solution may suit your target audience(s) better. Globally, 40% of mobile web page views are not from Apple handheld devices. That’s a big chunk of the market to ignore.

Graph taken from the Quantcast report

Nokia wears the crown in India

In some regions, the size of the non-apple mobile web is even greater. In India, where there is a lower penetration of fixed line telecommunication services, Apple are in a distant second place to Nokia in terms of share of mobile web.

Graph taken from the Quantcast report

Different goals

Once in contact with your web presence, mobile web visitors will also want to achieve different things compared to visitors to the full-blown version. Some content will be more relevant, perhaps content such as opening times, price comparison, location based information. Many of these trends have been highlighted in a recent report from Compete.

Given this difference in what visitors want to achieve, even if you have provided a carefully crafted mobile web version of your site – how will they find it? Your site is almost certainly optimised for (non-mobile) visitors and their associated goals. This raises the issue of balancing mobile and standard SEO and SEM.

That is a whole new blog post of it’s own.

Start planning now!

2010 is the year that the mobile web will reach tipping point. The iPhone is the catalyst that we’ve spent a decade waiting for. But whilst the iPhone is a trend, the wide-scale adoption of the mobile web is a permanent change. Start planing now! 1.26% of the browsing-world is probably already ahead of you.

10 important consequences of personal search results

Today, Simon Sundén published a post in Swedish called personalising search results as standard. It is no longer limited to those who are logged in. This has some pretty large consequences for search results and keyword rankings. The inclusion of real-time results and the upcoming Caffeine update are important; but personalised results as standard is a major change rather than a significant tweak.

In simple terms, it means that you’re less likely to get the same search result with the same search times in different browsers, or on different computers (and in different countries, logged in to google or not). SERPs suddenly got a whole lot more complicated.

Here’s a brief translation of the 10 consequences Simon described in detail on his blog, with followed by description:

1. Lots of companies think that they rank highest, but in reality they aren’t seen at all

It’s going to have to be explained a lot of times, but searching yourself is no longer empirical evidence that you’re poorly ranked, or well ranked.

2. Google me! or, well, don’t

Universal guaranteed search terms that rank high, won’t be quite as guaranteed anymore.

3. Optimise titles and descriptions!

Conversions from SERPs to clicks is even more important as clicks in results are now part of the ranking equation. Titles and descriptions are what are shown.

4. More important to optimise for all search types

Optimise for all search results – blended search; image, news, real-time, video. Everything that’s just not the classic organic search result.

5. Tuffer times for Ranking tools

Keyword ranking tools suddenly became a lot less accurate. They still have a roll to play as an indicator, but less so as a firm statistic.

6. Wide content scope is beneficial

As Google value well-visited sites, it’s even more important that you take good care of your visitors (or searchers so that they become visitors!)

7. Statistics even more important

It’s going to be more important to collect statistics about exactly which page visitors have come from via search engines; 1st, 2nd, 3rd?

8. Google webmaster reports become important… again

The “Top search queries” report becomes more relevant the more personalised results become. It’s the new ranking tool.

9. Bye, bye “Don’t be Evil” Google!

Google has take even one step further to being all-conquering and all-important. will be harder and hard to be perceived as not doing evil.

10. Bye, bye paid-rankings?

Various companies provide paid servicing giving top 3 or top 10 results on Google. What happens to that business model now?

Google is shaping our Internet. With almost every announcement they have the power to change not only our lives but also our businesses.

Start-ups are winners at social media

…or alternatively I could have written Incumbents are doomed to fail at social media.

At The Really Realtime Disruptive Media Conference in October 2009, Lesley Pennington, CEO and founder of Bemz, gave a presentation explaining how, thanks to social media, she had suceeded in creating a successful and profitable company.

As an Internet start-up, Bemz was at an instant advantage over older, incumbent organisations. There were starting with a clean slate. No baggage. No existing corporate culture. No massive shift in existing behaviour needed. No explaining “complicated” (read that as “everyday”) web concepts to C-suite executives who forged their careers before the Internet became mainstream.

This is why Internet start-ups & small businesses can leap-frog incumbants with their web-presences.

Unfortunately for old and established companies, I fear the only hope is for a generation shift – to wait (or to push) for the non-web-enabled executives to be replaced by their (younger) web-enabled equivalents. (Lisa Welchman discusses the C-Suite problem in great detail in No Chief Web Officer Required.)

By and large, the older executives are old dogs who are not going to learn new tricks. To them, both web strategy and web presence will remain a tactic, a side issue, rather than a strategy

They will not be able to convert their organisations into fully web-enabled enterprises with all the benefits it brings. That task, for this generation at least, is left to the start-ups and small businesses such as Lesley Pennington’s Bemz.

The perfect web presence: when visitor goals and business goals match completely and are successfully fulfilled

The Perfect web presence posted by James Royal-Lawson on Twitter
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