Anyone involved in online marketing has an innate sense that mobile is a big deal. We’re never more than an arm’s length from our phones, and we have a curious tendency to do everything on them.
I once sat in front of a dark, Netflix-enabled flat-screen, watching Netflix on my iPhone. It was just easier, and I had it on, and I could switch back and forth with Facebook, and… ok, maybe I have a problem!
In any event, our personal fascination with mobile phones shouldn’t dictate our work decisions. And one question that needs deciding more and more these days is around mobile search: is there a mobile audience for this particular client? And how do we measure the success of our efforts to get a mobile website in front of mobile searchers?
Of course, our past experience with desktop search gives us a great starting point. Search volumes, traffic, and even rankings are useful metrics, both here and there. But mobile SEO brings some special considerations, not least of which is credibility: we need to prove that mobile SEO provides value.
To that end, I’ve been working on a set of metrics to help me get some perspectives on these questions. These aren’t replacements for visitor counts or conversions – rather, think of them as supplements to help us compare the new and somewhat unfamiliar mobile SEO data to our tried-and-true desktop data.
Today we’ll look at one of the most useful, particularly in the early stages of a campaign.
The Mobile Ratio
One of the challenges in getting started with mobile search is proving the value of your efforts: is anyone using a phone to search for this client’s products or services?
To answer that with a simple, understandable metric, I’ve added a Mobile Ratio to the keyword research process. Basically, I’ll start by taking a desktop keyword list, and running the numbers to add mobile figures alongside. I’ll also expand the list if I find any mobile-specific keywords that seem interesting.
Then I’ll take the desktop and mobile volumes, and divide one into the other to compute the Mobile Ratio. For example, if I have a Mobile Ratio of 10, then I can tell the client that for every ten desktop searchers, we have the opportunity to reach one mobile searcher.
Straightforward statements like that allow a client to get their bearings, and start to form a mental model of what mobile means to them. Maybe they’d really like to add another one-tenth to their reach. Or maybe they have easier ways of getting access to those extra eyeballs. Either way, they now have some useful infomation on which to base a decision.
Doing this at both the keyword and aggregate level allows you to compare and contrast mobile activity for different keywords. So if my aggregate Mobile Ratio is 10, but I have a group of keywords that have ratios in the 5-6 range, then I know these keywords are mobile-heavy: they are more likely to be of interest to mobile users.
This is key info for site-planning and budgeting activities, as it can provide a business justfication for heavying-up on landing pages that address those keywords. Likely examples of keywords that are mobile-heavy could include coupon keywords, or keywords that include a location name.
In the end, the Mobile Ratio doesn’t create another data point. Instead, it offers a more intuitive way of looking at the data you already have, turning it into a KPI that you can use to make decisions about your mobile marketing plans.
In upcoming articles, we’ll take a look at some other useful metrics for managing mobile SEO.