If you want to get the most out of your search engine presence you better start paying attention to phones.
Last week was the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. If it plugs in (or has batteries) it was probably represented at the show. It's an orgy of TVs, projectors, speakers, headphones, and endless other electronics.
But the item I want to talk about today is the Craftsman AssureLink garage door opener. It's simple, but sophisticated. It's a garage door opener that connects to your home network and allows you to open and close your garage door with your iPhone or Android.
As soon as they told me what it was, I automatically started thinking about all the things I could control from my smartphone: the coffee pot, the stove, the iron. Being able to control any device from my phone would be highly useful. The more controlled items, the better.
But since this is a search marketing column, you might be asking yourself what this means to getting the most out of your search engine presence. Let's break it down:
First, This Has to Do With Phones
Our phones are becoming the control centers of our lives.
I'm sitting in a hotel room with Search Engine Watch writer Greg Habermann. I just heard his Words With Friends notification go off on his phone. That reminds me that I'm behind on the five games I'm playing myself. I only play on my phone.
I primarily use my Google Calendar on my phone. My phone is my lifeline to getting around when I travel. It is my primary still and video camera when I need a point and shoot. I usually text with my wife throughout the work day and when I'm on the road.
And now I will be able to control my garage door opener with my phone. Hopefully I'll be able to control other items within my house soon. I'm currently starting to think about how my phone will be the primary controller of my TV. It just all goes on and on.
It's not just me. This is where the action is. According to this article, smartphones made up 54 percent of all mobile phone sales in the U.S. in Q1 2011. This is a driving train that will not stop anytime soon.
I can imagine that you still could be unclear as to how this might affect your search marketing. Let me finish connecting the dots for you.
If we are doing all these things on our phone, why wouldn't we be searching for things on our phone? If you have a smartphone, I would be willing to bet you have searched for things more than once. And when we search we are hoping to find something that will address our question. We want to go to a place that will provide us the answers we need. This very likely could be your website.
Have you ever seen your site on a smartphone? How is the experience? Search engine marketing isn't about just coming up in the results. That's like walking up to the gates of Disney World and not going in. If the road to Disney World was fantastic but the actual park sucked, it wouldn't matter if the road was paved with gold.
Search marketing is as much (or more) about user experience than it is about showing up. In fact, I've seen many sites that probably shouldn't be coming up for any results because the site was so unbelievably terrible. Perhaps you have heard of the Google Panda Updates. That is a search algorithm that is ravaging sites because they are terrible user experiences.
Smartphone usage is only going up. It's not a huge leap to imagine a day where all phones are smartphones. Additionally, companies like Craftsman are only making the phone more critical. It's seriously time to think about what your online presence is like on a mobile device.
This Also Has to Do With Operating Systems
Chances are, you are probably a dedicated Android, iPhone, or BlackBerry user. You probably love your platform. However, the operating system creators are intentionally making it so you have to choose. IPhone users can't buy and use apps on the Android Market.
It is not out of the realm of possibility that you will be creating an app for your company. Our company is in the process of building an app for an industrial critical cleaning company. There couldn't be a more B2B, industrial application on the planet. Apps are for all companies.
Apps are particularly great because they are interactive. They aren't a simple markup language, like HTML, that displays information. These are engaging points of access for your company.
If you decide to invest in creating an app, which operating system will you choose? Did you notice that the Craftsman garage door opener supports Android and iPhone, but it makes no mention of Windows phones. I have talked with a lot of people about Windows 8 and how it works on a mobile phone. I've tried several of them. It's great. Windows phones are impressive. There is a real likelihood that they will be a major player in this space in the near future.
So, if you decide to develop an app, do you invest in all three operating systems?
And just so you know, HP has put its mobile operating system, WebOS, into the open source community. That makes it a real potential competitor to Android. Will you develop for that system? It's also a great platform.
If you have ever downloaded an app, you know how it works: there are featured apps, top paid apps, and top free apps. And, of course, there is a search bar. If you invest in an app, you definitely want to have a finding strategy. How will you get people to find your app? It's yet another search platform that you will need to optimize for.
This Is All Connected
The search marketing world is so far away from the days of where we were just focused on those blue text links that appear in the top three search properties. In fact, those links continue to get pushed down. We all need to ask ourselves hard questions. We need to push the boundaries of our preconceived beliefs and assumptions. We must enlarge our thoughts. We must free our minds of the constraints of yesterday's web marketing world. We must be thinking in today's reality, and pushing our minds into next year's reality. This train drives faster and faster. Our relevance in the business world requires that we, at the least, stay on the train and, at best, be in the front of the train, not sitting in the caboose.
Sage Lewis is the president of SageRock Digital Marketing. SageRock has been a leader in Web marketing since 1999, offering search engine optimization, paid search marketing, social media marketing, and analytics.
Sage speaks nationally with SES and other prominent Web marketing organizations. He is one of the most sought after speakers and coaches in the field of Web marketing. From coast to coast, Sage has trained, coached, and consulted with some of the largest brands and conferences in the country.
Sage is also "The Web Marketing Video Guy" with nearly 500 Web marketing videos published. Sage writes as an expert for ClickZ in the "Search Engine Marketing" section. He lives in Akron, Ohio with his wife, Rocky, and son, Indiana.
His columns can be found in the Search Engine Watch archive.
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