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Connecting the Digital World to the Outdoor Industry

Why Optimizing for Mobile SEO is More Important than Ever

Image - Telluride - Mike Del Cuore

More Ways to Optimize Your Mobile eCommerce Website to Improve Search

Google saw the future and it's mobile. That means mobile search on smartphones is where it's going and you need to be ready. When it comes to e-Commerce for brands and their retail partners, mobile is more than just a channel. It's an organizational necessity. From product discovery and in-store information gathering, to point of sale and payments, being mobile-first is mission critical to winning in today's e-Commerce.

desktop-vs-mobile-2018

Mobile Users Should be a Priority

In a recent report that hammers home the insight Google's team found last year, Adobe found that It’s true that smartphones still account for only a minority (39%) of website visits in the US as of December 2017. However, with that figure likely to continue growing for the time being, the focus will likely continue shifting to smartphones. Consumers today are virtually linked to their mobile devices all the time. They use them to communicate, for entertainment, for work, to seek information, and to acquire or shop for products.

Meanwhile, the importance of a strong user experience on smartphones is brought further to light by data in the report showing that "visits from these devices are getting shorter. Between January 2015 and December 2017 visit time on smartphones declined by 7.3% and pages per visit by 8.6%. That leads the analysts to note that consumers are becoming accustomed to an optimal, efficient experience and that websites need to mind the shorter attention span and decreased tolerance for useless steps.”

The Forrester report highlights several reasons why mobile shopping is “stalling.” Among them, survey data indicates that some shoppers continue to prefer the larger screens offered by desktops, for example. Additionally, mobile page speeds in the US lag: in fact, Google data suggests that mobile pages in the retail sector take more than twice as long to load as the best practice recommendation.

On an encouraging note, smartphone visits are slowly becoming more valuable relative to desktop ones.In 2017, 57% of all search traffic came from a mobile device or tablet and smartphone revenue per visit was about 30% that of desktop revenue per visit. While that may seem low, it’s a considerable improvement from January 2015, up by 11% points. More importantly, the rate of growth projected will have mobile search and purchase dominating before we know it. 

The analysis found that mobile phones were the “initial touch” device 40% of the time, just ahead of desktops (37%). That’s consistent with previous research indicating that smartphones are the primary device for launching shopping journeys.

Where phones really shine, however, is in moving the process along: mobile phones were used as the intermediary touch (neither the first nor the last touch) some 58% of the time!

This suggests a better experience on smartphones and more comfort with ordering products and services on these devices. That’s supported by recent data from Yes Lifecycle Marketing, which found that for the first time last year, email-driven conversions (orders per click) on mobile devices reached parity with desktops.

Pro tip:

Make sure your mobile website version loads faster than 3 seconds.

A Google study found 53% of mobile website visitors will leave a page if it does not load within 3 seconds.

Perhaps more startling is the difference a single second can make. According to research by Shopify, a one second load delay can lead to an 11% drop in page views and a 7% drop in conversions. A one second improvement can increase revenue up to 7%. Check your mobile page load speed here. 

 

A Strategy to Become Mobile First-Indexing Ready

So what exactly does this mean for developing search engine optimization strategies for your outdoor brand

Currently, search engines crawl the desktop version of a website in order to index and rank that site for SERPs. What you might not know though, is that this won’t be the case much longer with the introduction and rollout of Google’s mobile-first indexing. This isn't exactly new though, with Google first announcing that it would be experimenting with a mobile-first index in 2016 and finally starting to roll it out this past March. Google's overall thinking is to improve the mobile user’s search experience, helping them to better find what they need faster.

Most mobile search results are conducted through Google (over 90% of them!). It’s important to note that when Google says mobile, they mean smartphone. Google excludes tablets from the mobile category and that “unless you offer tablet-optimized content, you can assume that users expect to see your site as it would look on a desktop browser”. There won’t be separate indexes for desktop and mobile, so you’ll need to make sure the mobile version of your website is ready.  

The M Commerce Gap and Why

Mobile Website Configuration Options

According to ComScore, mobile accounts for 71% of all digital minutes in the U.S. Poorly functioning web commerce sites are the primary cause for the gap between the amount of time a shopper spends on the website and the amount of money they spend. Per DynamicYield, “Only 12% of consumers find shopping on the mobile web convenient“. That’s a lot of room for improvement. The five primary reasons are:

  1. Concern over online security
  2. Product details are either thin or hard to see
  3. Navigating the site is a challenge
  4. Browsing multiple screens is a bear
  5. Purchase information input is complicated and cumbersome

Additionally, brands must truly embrace speed for the load of the mobile website with easy functionality to navigate, access relevant information, and complete transactions.

If your website isn’t already mobile or you’re thinking about doing a major overhaul, there are 3 configuration options for mobile. You can choose from separate URLs, dynamic serving or responsive design.

  • Separate URLs -Using separate URLs means that every URL on your desktop version has a corresponding URL on the mobile version. 
  • Dynamic Serving - As opposed to separate URLS, a dynamic serving configuration has everything on one URL. You’ll need to have your website’s CSS and HTML written out for various devices. 
  • Responsive Design - The third option for configuration is a responsive design. Like a dynamic serving configuration, your desktop and mobile websites are also on the same URL. 

 

Mapping the U.S. Shopper's Mobile Path to Purchase

Six Other Mobile Optimization SEO Tips

1) Pillar Page Strategy

Content really matters. Get your content right, and you’ve created a solid foundation to support all of your other SEO efforts. Search engines love new and fresh content. That’s why you want to create content on a regular basis, or update your content as needed. 

Google’s algorithms have gotten really good over the years. If you optimize for a specific topic, you will begin to rank for particular keywords that Google knows are related to that topic. In order to implement this new strategy, it is important that we first pick out the most important pages that are going to drive the most traffic. We choose these pages, or pillar content, based off of certain data that can be pulled from Google Analytics, as well as what pages we want to drive a good amount of traffic to on your web site.

Once you have your pillar content determined and have chosen some topics that represent each page, you can begin research to determine some keywords that will be used to optimize those pages. This will give marketers and content creators some terminology they should be using.

Topic clusters

2) Long-tail Keyword Strategy

In order to see if the keywords will drive traffic, make sure you are using those that will be used in blog titles. They must be within the topics and created to drive traffic. In order to see if the keywords will drive traffic, make sure you are using the correct tools to determine monthly average searches.  

Because long-tail keywords are much easier to rank for, you sometimes have a better chance of getting traffic to your blog posts faster than your pillar pages. By linking to those pillar pages within the blog posts, it gives people a chance to click through to that page, and it gives that page another link, creating more link authority which causes a rise in rank.

3) Schema

Schema is a code that goes on your site that can help search engines return more informative results for the users. It can make your search results look more interactive and give users information without them having to click through to the site. Below is an example of Schema from Red Rocks and their concert schedule:

Schema Markup for SEO

Red Rocks is using Schema to display their schedule for users to easily see upcoming shows. For users, this is exceptionally useful and Google notices this and holds higher priority over some competitors.

4) Choose the Right URLs

According to Rand Fishkin and the Moz team, there are a few URL guidelines to follow for optimal ranking:

  1. Your URL should be easy for real, live humans to read and interpret because accessibility matters to Google.
  2. Using your keywords in URLs is still highly encouraged as they show up in search results.
  3. Short URLs are better than long URLs. Try to keep it below 50-60 characters.
  4. Match the URL and page title as closely as possible.
  5. Don’t include stop words like “and”, “of”, “the” and “a”.
  6. Keyword stuffing and pointless repetition don’t trick Google and make your store look spammy.

5) If You Have Thin Content Pages Improve Them With Long Product Descriptions

Google and other search engines use the content on your page to decide which keywords to rank your page for and how high your page should rank for each keyword.

So, if your product page has a short little description and not much else, Google doesn’t have a whole lot to go on. Increase it with more detailed in-depth product descriptions.

6) Don't Forget About Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI)

We do a lot of e-Commerce websites using Shopify. Shopify has written about the importance of using LSI. A LSI keyword is closely related to your main keyword. For an example, you can find these through use of a search on Amazon by searching for your main keyword and then look at what keywords that keep having pop up referencing key elements or selling factors for that product.

Here are some other resources to understand why having an SEO strategy is critical to your outdoor industry brand success are:

Additional insights into some particular SEO tactics can be found in:

Little Known SEO Tactics: Going Beyond On-Page Optimization & Backlinks

Best Practices for Optimizing a Blog for SEO

Pro tip: Know what your competitors are doing in the SEO space

SEMRush released their Competitive Intelligence 2.0 Toolkit. It's powered by big data and machine learning algorithms. Their authority score metric in the link audit report is also powered by machine learning. This tool can help you know what your competitors are up to in SEO.

 

Trends to Prepare for Now

Voice

Today’s technology is actually training consumers to ask questions. Google search results now suggest questions based on your query, even if you didn’t frame it as a question. Moreover, today’s hot tech trend – voice search via Amazon Alexa or Google Home – is explicitly based on asking questions. Even beyond search per se, questions are hot.  Reddit’s rise has been fueled in part by the popularity of its “Ask Me Anything” forums, while our data reveal that question-and-answer site Quora has seen 25% growth in traffic in the past year alone. What's ahead?

1. 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020, per comScore. (Is it even a post about voice search if you don’t lead with this stat??)

2. About 30% of all searches will be done without a screen by 2020, per Gartner.

3. 13% of all households in the United States owned a smart speaker in 2017, per OC&C Strategy Consultants. That number is predicted to rise to 55% by 2022.

Google is expected to unveil a new device featuring a screen as part of its Home smart speaker line at its hardware event in October, according to Android Authority. The new smart speaker will reportedly be named the Google Home Hub, and feature Google Assistant, a seven-inch touchscreen display, and a $149 price tag. The device would mark Google's first direct foray into the screen-equipped speaker market, and could come with a few key advantages.

US Consumer Use of Voice Assistants Over Time

Additionally, consider these trends:

1. Voice commerce sales reached $1.8 billion last year, per OC&C Strategy Consultants. They’re predicted to reach $40 billion by 2022.

2. 22% of U.S. smart speaker owners have purchased something using their devices, per Edison Research.

3. 5% of consumers use voice shopping, but that number could reach 50% by 2022, per MoffettNathanson.

4. 35.8% of millennials use voice-enabled digital assistants at least once a month, per eMarketer; this compared to just 10.1% of baby boomers.

5. The number of millennials who use voice-enabled digital assistants will climb to 39.3% in 2019, per eMarketer.

voice-search-demographic-statistics-2018-emarketer-1

 

The increased functionality of smart speaker technology is a significant driver of of skyrocketing adoption. From a beginning of providing a means to call up music and turn on lights, these speakers are now assisting consumers in discovering new products and provide a direct path to purchase. 

Pro tip: People make voice searches differently than they type out a search request, so you must utilize natural language in your voice search SEO

Since users of voice search are essentially having a conversation with their personal assistant device, your content should fit this context. Your content should be more conversational and be organized as if answering a question. Research how your customers ask questions about your product to frame your content development.


In fact, nearly a quarter of consumers globally already prefer using a voice assistant over going to a company website or mobile app to shop (Hint-Conduct keyword analysis for voice terms – terms that are longer in nature and often voiced as questions). This share will jump to 40% by 2021, according to Capgemini. 

Here are three ways brands can benefit by adopting voice technology:
 
• In the coming years, the increased use of voice assistants are being included in plans to transform the retail and online shopping experience. All the voice assistants, including Amazon's Alexa, Google's Assistant, Apple's Siri, and Microsoft's Cortana, are working feverishly to attract, train and induce consumers to use voice search for finding products on line and near them. 

• Voice technology for search inquiries and the development of voice apps offer distinct advantages over the current types of search being.

As consumer demand for voice technology mounts, brands offering this functionality throughout the entire customer journey stand to gain by:

  1. Driving product purchases: Voice assistants make spending faster and easier when consumers are unable to use their hands. The ability to make a purchase on any channel and the addition of personalized, intelligent elements to the shopping experience are simplifying the transition from product discovery to product purchase.
  2. Heightening customer loyalty: Brands can leverage voice assistants in the post-purchase phase to track delivery status, automate part of the return process, interact with customer service, offer feedback, and collect consumer behavioral and transactional data.
  3. Shifting consumers' spending behaviors: Smart device ownership has a snowball effect, so as the smart device ecosystem reaches the mainstream, consumers will flock to connected cars, smart home devices and appliances, and connected virtual reality and augmented reality (VR/AR) headsets.

Not too long ago, if your friend had a smart speaker like Amazon's Alexa or Google's Assistant in their living room, it seemed like a rare novelty. Within a matter of months, however, smart speakers have started becoming household staples — and they're still only at a fraction of their growth potential.

In short- take voice search seriously as component of your search strategy. 

Visual

In 2017 visual search was 27 percent of all searches across 10 major properties being for images and projected to grow to 35% by the end of 2018. Currently, a consumer can search for products using visual images. One type of visual search is achieved through a search engine that is designed to find an image. There are currently three different visual search processes being employed by major search companies:

  • Traditional image search that relies on textual queries.
  • Reverse image search that relies on structured data to determine similar characteristics.
  • Pixel-by-pixel image searches that enable “snap and search” by image or by parts of the image.

The arrival of the Pinterest Lens and Google Lens has ignited a battle for visual search engine supremacy. Beyond opening up a new revenue stream for e-commerce stores, visual search could completely alter consumer habits and purchasing decisions.

Visual search is evolving with the use of images posted through social networks that include product names and descriptions. The ability for a consumer to see what they want has opened up the opportunity for them to engage in "snap and surf" purchasing. This provides a promising outlook for e-commerce stores that develop their product listing ads (PLAs) and online catalogs for the visual web.

Too often brands are not paying enough attention to optimizing for visual search. Optimizing for visual search can improve your website user experience, increase your conversion rate and boost traffic. However, images are often not being given the attention they should by your SEO team. 

Let's look closer at the at emerging visual search channels.

Instagram- 

The launch of Instagram Shoppable Stories provide opportunities for outdoor brands to visually stimulate increase interest in and ultimate purchase of your product. Images in these Instagram stories can be tagged. With a tag in the image, consumers could click the tags to see product details and make a purchase through an outdoor brand's own checkout process. With over 400 million Instagram accounts being checked out on a daily basis, getting your products seen through your own and through your fan's feeds is dynamic new way to increase online sales. 

This new type of visual channel

"lends itself well to impulse purchases because consumers will be shown products they weren't planning on buying from brands they're interested in — given that they voluntarily viewed a brand's Story — potentially leading to purchases. Impulse purchases are a valuable sales avenue for Instagram since it's not likely to be a place consumers visit with a purchase in mind, like online marketplaces, and it instead leverages its role as a product discovery tool".

Pro tip: Make sure you are improving your organic image visibility

Schema markup and metadata are particularly important for SEO in visual search. With minimal text expected in the future of visual search, this data may be one of the only sources of textual information for search engines to crawl. What’s more, metadata strengthens your ability to drive traffic not only to your website but also to specific products on your site.

Instagram has created a direct shopping channel through its Explore tab. Currently a user can explore for topic channels like "Art" and "Travel", however it's also developing a new general shopping channel. With the growth of outdoor gear sales, it's conceivable, it may develop a separate outdoor gear type channel. The platform allows brands to display shoppable posts and will connect consumers to related posts through suggestions created by its algorithm. This will allow the consumer to build their own personalized shopping channel. Think it's too early to get into this channel?

  • 48.8% of brands are on Instagram. By 2017, this is predicted to rise to 70.7%.
  • Engagement with brands on Instagram is 10 times higher than Facebook, 54 times higher than Pinterest, and 84 times higher than Twitter.
  • Over a third of Instagram users have used their mobile to purchase a product online– making them 70% more likely to do so than non-users.

Now to Snapchat

Snapchat is second to Instagram in time spent by consumers on a visual app. Snapchat is working on a visual product search feature that would allow users to press and hold an item on screen and then be directed to Amazon listings for that product, TechCrunch reports.

This new visual search feature provides a gateway to product search. Its design increases the convenience for consumers by allowing a search for any product from which they can simply press on and hold on the visual image. As this feature increases in popularity, it's social commerce should expand. If this happens, it may solidify itself with Instagram as the one of the two dominant visual search and purchase channels.

An integrated visual search connection provides a substantial beachhead to connect and grow with Gen Z. Seventy-five percent of US teens use the social network. 

"Acting as the primary product search fulfiller for this group provides an opportunity to ingrain Amazon in Gen Z's shopping process. And, combined with the e-Commerce giant's Amazon Household feature, which allows teens to set up a separate Amazon account linked to their parents', the effect is direct access to a generation with spending power that is only going to increase as they grow older."

Speaking of Amazon, it is working to enhance its voice search by adding a visual component to its screen-enabled Alexa devices. It has also launched a new open source developer language called Alexa Presentations Language (APL), that will allow developers to create Alexa voice skills that adopt visual elements such as GIFs, images, videos, and slideshows. The new design language will be available for skills on Amazon's Echo lineup, Fire TVs, and select Fire Tablet devices in 2018.

Additional resources are:

Ultimate Guide To Ecommerce SEO

BigCommerce SEO Success Essentials

The Ultimate Guide to SEO in 2019

Talk To Us About eCommerce

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