Sitting in this session felt a bit like somebody was repeatedly cracking me on the head with AHA after AHA. I've seen the presenter, Cindy Krum, speak before. She is vivacious and cute, and so believes in what she is saying. The information she gave us was a gigantic shift for me. I think this session was my second favorite of the conference and you will see why.
In this session she spoke about searching with smart phones. The most popular smart phone of course is the iPhone, with various Blackberry models in second place. Cindy gave us the statistic which I have already quoted several times, but bears repeating:
* 5% of phone owners have an iPhone, but 75% of mobile searches are coming from an iPhone.
Translated into easy to digest brain info, this means that smart phone users are much more likely to conduct a mobile search than users of other types of phones. It stands to reason then, that when these people who don't yet own an iPhone get one, mobile searching will increase at some number too big to even comprehend, talk about, or even write down.
So the question for a small business owner is, will you be ready?
Yes, dear soul, you have stuff to do to get ready. There is such a thing as mobile bots, and they will visit you. When they come, like regular bots, they will evaluate your website(s). They are looking to see how your website will "render" on the screen of a smart phone, and even if your content is something that a mobile searcher might be looking for. You will want to roll out a raging bottie party for these little guys in order to make them feel right at home.
In order to do this, let's take a step back for one moment and examine what is going on when a mobile search is performed. I am willing to bet that a search from a phone is being done to: find a location, find a phone number, find a restaurant, find a business, find a Starbucks, find a gas station, etc. Further, and astute readers will tattoo this concept directly onto their foreheads, these people have an IMMEDIATE NEED TO USE THEIR WALLET!
Please take all the time you need to grasp the significance of this. Mobile searches will be increasing in MASS by people who are looking to spend money immediately.
Okay, so let's get back to the role of the mobile bots. These bots hold your lifeblood in their hands. They are actively indexing mobile sites now. Does your site render properly to a smart phone? Don't know? Call your site developer and ask. If they say they can't do it, fire them and find somebody who can. It's that important.
Cindy provided some very interesting demographics slides, which I will get and share. She also explained the difference between on-deck and off-deck searches. They are important to understand, but I will put off an explanation for now because it is complicated.
Cindy urged us to think about the Mobile User (KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER). She urged us to always code our sites in xhtml and use CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). As I have said previously, it's okay if you don't know what these are, however ask your developer if your sites have these standards. If not, fire the buggars and get somebody who knows what they are doing! Your very online life depends upon it.
She gave us a huge list of mobile directories to submit our sites to. I will get that and share it. She said that there is a meta tag for mobile which helps to alert engines that you have a mobile version of your site. She said that we all have a lot of work to do. She said to be ready.
I am going to be ready. Fortunately for me, I am my own developer. Call yours and have a conversation STAT.
One last item of interest, Cindy introduced the notion of QR codes. QR codes have been popular in Japan for a long time. They are two dimensional bar codes which can be read by some cameras. iPhone is adding QR code readers into future versions which is why I advise to wait to buy an iPhone.
Curious on how the QR code works? Check out this video: