Mobile Commerce Optimization Tips

Mobile Commerce

The number of smartphone owners is increasing rapidly each day. People not only use their smartphones to check email and make phone calls, but they’re also using them as shopping tools.  According to comScore Inc., two-thirds of smartphone owners shop from their mobile device. They make excellent shopping tools, because there are many websites and apps designed to compare prices, get product reviews, locate nearby stores, and purchase products.

If your business has a mobile commerce website or app, the goal is to lower bounce rates and increase conversions. In order for this to happen, your mobile site must have the proper functionality, and it needs to be optimized effectively. I’d like to share some tips and best practices for mobile commerce optimization.

Usability is incredibly important for smartphone owners. Here are a few usability tips to consider that may help lower bounce rates and increase your customers’ mobile shopping satisfaction:

  • Include breadcrumb links at the top of product pages, as well as category results. These features allow users to easily navigate throughout your mobile store.
  • Give your users the option of switching to the desktop website at any time. A link in the footer to view the full site is great for usability. This link should dynamically update to point to the desktop version of the current page.
  • If your business has a brick-and-mortar location, take advantage of the location-based (GPS) feature on mobile devices, as it will help the user find your closest store.

Once you’ve satisfied your smartphone owners with a good user experience, the goal is to get them to make a purchase. In order to make it easy for customers to convert, it’s important to consider the following:

  • Product details, such as product reviews, impact the buying decision of the customer.
  • Nonessential steps in your checkout process add friction, likely resulting in lost revenue.
  • Low content volume on each page is essential. Instead of forcing users to scroll down on pages, split content across multiple pages, or use jQuery tabs to organize content within a limited space.
  • Larger input fields in forms gain attention and decrease typos. Also, any form elements that you can pre-populate with a drop-down select field will decrease form friction.
  • Use a drop-down select field instead of radio buttons, because a list of radio buttons clutters the form and makes it look longer.
  • Replace a long drop-down field with a predictive text input field.
  • Having the shopping cart and checkout accessible from every page makes it easy for customers to complete a purchase.

From an SEO standpoint, here are some technical tips to help your mobile commerce site’s ranking and visibility in Google’s mobile search results:

  • Create a mobile sitemap so that your mobile-specific content gets indexed.
  • Use an “m” or “mobile” subdomain for your site to help Google crawl it and add it to the correct index.
  • Create a robots.txt file with a sitemap protocol listing the location of the mobile sitemap, and upload the file to the root directory of the mobile site.

Be sure to keep these tips in mind as you develop a mobile commerce strategy to decrease bounce rates and increase conversions, and to improve rankings and visibility in Google’s mobile search results. Your customers will buy from you more often, more new clients will discover you while they are mobile-searching, and you’ll enjoy knowing that your website is doing its best job to represent your business to the web-savvy world-at-large.

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  • Nice article with lots of great advice, Jonathan.

    I wanted to take issue with one of your suggestions though. Using a subdomain for your mobile site might not be a best practice. Rather than treat your mobile site and desktop site as separate content that Google crawls separately, and dividing your PageRank and authority up among the two sites, wouldn’t it be better to aggregate all your authority, always have your best URLs show up in SERPS, and then detect the user agent and provide an optimized version of the page for whatever browser the visitor is using?

  • Jason: I’m glad you enjoyed the article. Based on your question with the subdomain, the full site will typically have better PageRank than the mobile site. The goal of creating the subdomain is to have a root directory for the mobile sitemap to live, which will help Google index the mobile site in it’s mobile search results. If your full site ranks better since it has greater PageRank, then you can still detect mobile browsers and redirect to the mobile subdomain. The full site will always rank better because it will naturally get more traffic. However, mobile traffic is expected to surpass desktop traffic by 2014, so PageRank may be allocated better to mobile sites by then.

  • All good and valid advice. I personally agree with the breadcrumb tips. It immensely helps in easy navigation. Also the use of the word mobile subdomain helps in faster crawl of Google bots. Thanks for sharing this and keep posting!

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