October 11, 2013
Mobile search is increasingly becoming the norm, as more users search for the things they need via Smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices. According to the latest report from RKG, more than a quarter of organic and paid search traffic in the second quarter of this year was mobile rather than static.
Mobile search is on the rise and it’s important for any company to optimize sites and content. Google recently announced changes in its mobile search ranking algorithms that effectively penalize sites that are not properly optimized and configured for mobile formats. More importantly, however, you need to give your customers as smooth and enjoyable an experience as possible.
One of the ways to do so is by building in good quality search features. Mobile users typically do not want complicated navigation. They tend to be more focused than static searchers, with a particular goal in mind, and allowing them to effectively search your site for the page, content or product they need can streamline the process.
Site search users also tend to convert at a higher rate. Because of this, it’s essential for companies to strengthen mobile website search and, thus, maximize their website’s performance. Here are some tips for getting the most out of mobile search interaction:
Don’t make visitors search for the search box
Navigation through your mobile optimized site should be streamlined and straightforward, and installing a search box is essential. It’s also important to make it easy to find. This usually means positioning it prominently at the top of your mobile landing page. It should also be clearly labelled or otherwise made obvious what the box is for. Including the search box on subsequent pages can also be useful, because mobile users don’t want to be flicking back to previous pages, or working out how to navigate further through the site.
Use auto complete
Typing on a phone or tablet can be a little trickier than using a full-sized keyboard on a desktop computer or laptop. Building in an auto complete feature can help your mobile users find what they want with less effort by suggesting terms when visitors start typing the first letters of a keyword. This allows them to select the relevant search term without having to type in the entire word or phrase.
An auto suggest feature can also be useful. This suggests alternative products or items based on what the visitor has already viewed. If you use Amazon or eBay, for example, you’ll be familiar with the sections that read ‘Customers who bought this item also bought…’ and ‘People who viewed this item also viewed…’
Care should be taken on mobile platforms. Don’t make auto suggest too intrusive on a smaller screen, but this sort of feature can still be useful to both the vendor and customer. The Deb Shops chain, for example, reported a 20 per cent increase in adds to cart for users exploring with a ‘More like this…’ feature.
Keep results on the same page
In general, the fewer clicks your visitors have to make in order to find what they’re looking for, the happier they will be. Instead of presenting one page of search results at a time, requiring users to click to get to the next results, use an infinite scrolling feature. When visitors get near the end of the page, more results are loaded automatically, creating an endless scroll. This lowers the number of actions the visitor has to make and allows them to go back and revisit earlier results more easily.
The best design for mobile optimized websites in general is often a single column that allows the user to view content without scrolling from side to side. This is certainly the case for search results, which should be compact and concise.
Make use of GPS
Many mobile search tasks are locational in nature. Searches are often conducted on-the-go, and the GPS technology in Smartphones and other mobile devices allows you to tailor certain results and information based on current location.
If your company has high street stores, for example, include a store locater that automatically finds the nearest store and a relevant contact telephone number based on the device’s current location. While you’re at it, make sure the contact number is clickable, allowing the user to contact the store without having to key in the digits individually.
Emphasize your promotions
If you have a product that is on promotion and a user searches for a relevant term, it makes sense to emphasize that item. A keyword-driven banner appearing at the top of the search results is a good way to do this. Since it is keyword-driven, the item will be relevant to the search, meaning the customer gets a potential bargain and you get to push your promotion.
Christian Arno is the founder of Lingo24, Inc. , a provider of translation services in California and all over the globe. Launched in 2001, Lingo24, Inc. now has more than 200 employees spanning four continents and clients in more than 60 countries. Follow Lingo24, Inc. on Twitter: @Lingo24