Ranking high in mobile search results will be more crucial because of new Google and Bing policies. And taking shoppers directly into apps is a key way to boost results from mobile marketing.
With the 2014 holiday shopping season all but in the books, it’s time to look ahead to 2015—a year that promises many mobile firsts to each consumer brand and merchant. Of the many mobile opportunities and strategies to consider in 2015, you'll want to place mobile SEO and app deep-linking at the very top of your list. Why?
Google dominates mobile search with 83% market share. When they introduced the new “mobile-friendly” label last month, they also warned it would soon be a ranking factor. (I read that to mean sometime in early Q1.) Bing has followed suit with a host of new mobile crawlers, plus mobile ranking algorithms of their own. Meanwhile new studies show #1 mobile listings garner some 300% more clicks than #2 mobile listings, and 600% more than the #3 mobile listings.
The upside of mobile SEO and downside of doing nothing are now crystal clear: Mobile SEO will play a vital role in fueling mobile commerce in 2015 and beyond.
What this means is if your retail brand plans to stick with a dedicated mobile site, you’ll want to address those longstanding mobile SEO deficiencies very early in 2015: Create mobile versions of all desktop pages; properly configure your mobile redirects for Google and Bing smartphone bots; clean up your update sitemaps and robot files; use alternate link markup, just to name a few.
If you’re using responsive design, concentrate on delivering page load times in one second or less by optimizing file requests and asset sizes for mobile. If you’re using adaptive design or other dynamically served formatting that depend on device matching, audit your dynamic desktop URLs to ensure they indeed lead mobile bots and users to fast-loading, mobile-formatted content.
Also consider the new ways mobile SEO can benefit your iOS and Android app marketing. It's not just about making app store pages rank higher. New opportunities to get in-app pages indexed in Google and Bing harken back to desktop SEO a decade ago when the challenge was to make dynamic site content crawlable. If you have iOS or Android apps, get URL schemes assigned to all deep app pages and take advantage of app indexation tags so mobile searchers can open or download your app directly from the mobile search results.
The benefits of adding deep-link support to iOS and Android apps go far beyond just app indexation in search engines. As much as 86% of mobile time is spent in apps. New studies show mobile consumers install on average eight new apps per month, making app re-engagement more and more challenging.
Deep-linking is the technological enabler for brands to bypass this quagmire and capitalize on mobile’s potential in any marketing channel—e-mail, display, social, SEM [search engine marketing], SEO, even radio and TV.
If you have iOS and Android apps, assign URL schemes to all deep app pages. If you have app developer resource constraints, start small: Assign a basic brand URL scheme to your app home screen (e.g. amazon:// or walmart://). Then experiment with deep-linking technologies that selectively enhance the app-user experience by taking them to your app home screen instead of your mobile site home page.
Measure incremental app opens and engagement. You may be surprised by what you find. On Cyber Monday and Black Friday this year, multiple IR50 brands hit app open rates as high as 55% on mobile ad campaigns targeting iPhone and iPad customers.
Deep-linking isn’t limited to your own app either. All the major social apps where your brand has a presence support deep-linking into profile pages and let you create a level of engagement never even possible on desktop.
For example, you could deep-link mobile customers directly from an e-mail campaign into the Instagram app’s camera mode so they can snap a picture wearing your product and share it with their followers. Take advantage of the free deep-link technology platforms available to deep-link mobile social users into your profiles for more mobile sharing, followers, and engagement.
Ultimately mobile SEO and app deep-linking will be disruptive forces in mobile commerce, because they're about improving the mobile customer experience and making it easier to do business with you. Making both an integral part of your brand's mobile strategy will be key to m-commerce success in