When it comes to consumers searching for products and services, especially at the local level, mobile is quickly becoming the platform of choice.  In fact, Matt Cutts, a Google search engineer, has stated that as soon as this year, mobile search volume may surpass searches on desktops.  This means a fundamental shift in focus in SEO needs to take place.  Now, a “mobile first SEO” strategy has taken on a whole new level of importance.

Originally posted by Bobby Holland on LinkedIn (view here)

One of the major areas of focus in my agency over the past 6 months has been the combined strategy of “local SEO” and mobile web apps for business. The combined strategy, and the impact its having on our clients’ business, has given birth to what I now call the Mobile First SEO Strategy.

Let me use one of my DUI attorney clients as an example. This a great market for the mobile first SEO strategy because, as you can imagine, when someone gets arrested for a DUI they (or their friends and family) are usually turning to Google to search for a DUI attorney in their local area.

This is what I call a ‘consumer facing’ local market that’s prime for both top rankings in Google and easy accessibility via mobile devices.

So the mobile first SEO strategy starts with the objective of top search results in Google – preferably into the letter A position of Google’s 7 pack of local search results which always appear at the top of Google on mobile phones.

Next, since we know that people are using Google to search for local businesses on their mobile phone, the mobile first SEO strategy has to include a fast loading, professional looking mobile app that loads automatically on all mobile devices – opposed to having your regular HTML website try to load on a mobile device – and one that matches the look and feel of your existing website (logo, color themes, etc…).

Finally, the mobile first SEO strategy concludes by featuring a “tap to call” button at the top of the mobile app. That way it’s easy for someone to place a call into the business once the mobile app loads on a mobile phone.

To tie it all together, the “mobile first SEO” strategy looks like this:

1) Being found at the top of Google’s local search results.

2) Have a professionally designed mobile app that loads automatically whenever someone taps on your search results from a mobile device.

3) Feature a “tap to call” button at the top of the mobile app so people can easily place a call into your business.

Some other features, other than the “tap to call” button, that are working well for our clients are as follows:

For our dental clients, the “tap to email” and “tap for directions” buttons are driving a lot of use and adoption. For our insurance agency clients, the “tap for quotes” button is working really well.

Pretty much any local business that relies on inbound phone calls and inquiries will fit the prime demographic for the mobile first SEO strategy.

One interesting phenomena I’m seeing with our clients is inbound traffic and interaction coming from people who are already customers. These are people made up of their current client base who are looking for directions, wanting to send a quick email, or need to place a call into the business.

Basically, I’m seeing an increase in traffic and interaction on our client’s mobile apps from people who are searching in Google for a business name or the name of the people who work there (the lawyer, dentist, insurance agent, owner, etc…).

So the “mobile first SEO” strategy really has a two fold objective:

1) To connect with new customers who are searching at the business category level (i.e. dui attorney, dentist, or auto insurance quotes in a particular city). The mobile first SEO strategy works great for this objective because of Google’s unique algorithm at the local level. Basically, if someone is in Roswell, Georgia (for example) and simply types the word ‘dentist’ into Google on their mobile phone, Google will automatically show the local search results for dentists in that city. The results would be equivalent to someone typing in “dentist in roswell ga”.

2) To connect with existing customers who are searching for your business to get directions, place a call, or send an email. This is why we are seeing an increase in mobile app interaction for people wanting directions.

Let me conclude with some raw data over the past 30 days for one of our clients along with a screenshot of their mobile web app. First, here’s a screenshot for our client law firm Prior, Daniel, & Wiltshire in Athens, Georgia:

mobile seo athens ga

Keyword phrases that are driving the most inbound mobile traffic:

  • personal injury lawyer athens ga
  • dui attorney athens ga
  • lawyers in athens ga
  • and then the names of the attorneys and the name of the law firm itself.

Next the data from the last 30 days – this is the production coming directly from the mobile app as a result of organic search traffic (traffic coming only from Google searches):

  • Clicks to call (“Call Us” button): 23
  • Directions (“Find Us” button): 20
  • Total views: 499
  • Unique views: 319

One question I’m asked quite a bit by both prospects and clients is “what’s the difference between ‘total’ and ‘unique’ views. Total views accounts for every visitor – even repeat visitors – to the mobile app, and unique views accounts for each unique visitor (unique IP address) and counts that visit only once.

So all of this is to introduce you to the new idea of a “mobile first SEO” strategy, and it’s one I see working extremely well for our clients who have a local customer base.

At the end of the day, it’s important for you to know that people searching for both your products and services ,and your business itself, right from their mobile phones, and the growth of mobile search is exploding even as we speak.

In fact, Google’s own Matt Cutts said back in March 2014 that he “wouldn’t be surprised if mobile search queries exceeded desktop queries this year” (source).

And here’s the graph that was used in conjunction with that comment that shows the growth of mobile searches (green line) vs. desktop searches in Google (blue line):

mobile seo atlanta ga

I want to strongly encourage any local or small business business to consider implementing a “mobile first SEO” strategy because I’m sure, if you follow the data, you’ll see a strong ROI on your efforts and investment.

What are you thoughts on this “mobile first SEO” strategy?