October 17, 2012, 11:06 AM — As with most things in life, mobile search engine optimization (SEO)-the art and science of ensuring your content is easily found on tablets and smartphones-comes with a carrot and a stick.
First, the carrot. All those people browsing the Web and using apps on their mobile browsers are often highly motivated to take action-such as buy a product or service from your site. For example, Mobile Marketer estimates that 70% of all mobile searches result in user action within one hour. Nine out of 10 mobile searches lead to some action, and over half of the time, it's a purchase, according to Search Engine Land. Ensuring your content is easily found by mobile users and renders well on their screens could deliver a bottom line boost.
Now, the stick. If you don't optimize your site for mobile users, you could get left behind. According to Gartner, mobile devices are expected to overtake PCs as the most common Web-access devices worldwide by 2013, while a BIA/Kelsey report predicts mobile local search volume will surpass desktop local search for the first time in 2015.
Mobile search is big and getting bigger. Some estimates suggest that mobile search now accounts for 25% of all U.S. search traffic. Users are increasingly tapping keyword searches on touchscreen keyboards. They're also asking questions of Siri, Apple's virtual assistant that rolled out to more iOS devices on Sept. 19, and Google Now, the virtual assistant that debuted in Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.
The good news is that mobile SEO doesn't require significant changes as compared to your desktop SEO strategies, says Vanessa Fox, author of Marketing in the Age of Google and founder of Nine By Blue, which provides search analytics software and SEO training. SEO best practices-using relevant keywords in title tags and H1 headers, developing great content that people will engage with, attracting quality links from other sites, and so on-are essentially the same with mobile and desktop, she adds.