The Value in Mobile Optimization
80% of today’s homebuyers search for a home online, and according to Accenture, Gen Y and millennials prefer using smartphones over computers, so it’s completely understandable that agents today are grappling with the switch to mobile marketing and mobile optimization in order to get ahead in the game.
Websites need to be Mobile Responsive
Getting a website running is one item to cross off every digital agent’s to-do list, but making sure that that website is truly mobile responsive is an entirely new objective - one that matters more than ever. Google continues to raise its standards and protocols for websites that appear in searches, which means websites must be optimized for smartphone and even tablet users so as not to get booted off the results pages that matter.
Agents can promote mobile optimization of their websites by:
Making them more responsive - in a nutshell, this means allowing the site to readjust on a device according to the device’s screen size. Everyone sees the same source information, but simply in different ways - a capability that is preferred by Google.
Avoiding duplicate versions of a site - an agent can mean well, but creating a mobile site (a smaller version of the actual website) can actually hinder navigation, have less features and simply just duplicate information that’s already on the original (which Google hates).
Running speed tests periodically - a website that loads up fast can make all the difference between building a loyal customer base, and losing visitors rapidly because the landing page is taking too long to load (Bad news, agents: 4+ seconds to load is way too long, and what’s more, 64% of smartphone users expect pages to load faster than on desktop). Checking if images are too big on the site (and hence taking longer to show up on-site) is one example of adjusting site speed - there are many others, and it’s up to each agent to decide what they’re trying to truly achieve with their site, because compromises will have to be made. Running speed tests on competitor sites is also a great way to see how one’s own site is faring in comparison.
The interesting thing is that just a few years ago, ‘mobile friendly’ was a term once used to urge website owners to get in on mobile apps or simply make their websites more responsive in design. The revolution now moves way beyond just having a mobile-friendly design, but touches on smoother, more intuitive user experience, sharper, smarter keywords and, the golden key of all things internet, content creation.
What’s more, search activity on tablets and smartphones differ still. While smartphones can be used anytime, anywhere, tablets may be preferred at home or at work. While smartphones are utilized to find out more urgent or immediate answers (“I want to go” “I want to buy”), tablet users can engage in longer, more studied searches with more time and scope for content consumption. Agents would do well to keep these differences in mind when mapping out how site content is generated (and then displayed on these devices).
Because mobile users are so used to expecting instant responses to their queries, some have suggested producing ‘micro-moments’ or bite-sized pieces of information on websites to further enhance mobile optimization, because according to Google, these queries can fall into four categories:
I-want-to-know: e.g., "Who are the nearest real estate agents"
I-want-to-do: e.g., "I want to book an appointment with Agent Y next week"
I-want-to-go: e.g., "How do I get to **** agency"
I-want-to-buy: e.g., "I want to buy a 2-bedroom condo"
An agent who is able to anticipate today’s homebuyer search trends and also utilize Google’s complex natural language query capabilities in search engines, is an agent who is already getting ahead of the curve.