When you want to learn something new how do you go about doing that? Personally I approach new topics by writing about them, and asking questions to folks that know a lot more than I do. Which is why when I decided to learn more about mobile marketing, I immediately decided I needed to interview, Cindy Krum. Cindy Krum, is the CEO and founder of MobileMoxie.com as well as the author of “Mobile Marketing: Finding Your Customers No Matter Where They Are“. Cindy is also one of the few people I know that has an advanced knowledge of both mobile marketing and SEO. Cindy is the perfect person to learn mobile from. I can’t wait to learn more, and I hope you learn as well!
JOE: I have heard some people use the term, “mobile SEO”. What is that? Is that a real thing independent of regular SEO?
CINDY: Mobile SEO is totally a ‘real thing’ but I would not say that it is independent of regular SEO. Mobile SEO principles are based on traditional SEO principles – Most of the same rules apply. Mobile SEO is a bit more complex than desktop SEO because from a design and development perspective, there are lots of different ways to handle mobile content. As a mobile SEO, I focus on helping clients understand the different mobile development techniques and how they impact SEO. I focus mostly on mobile rankings, but also on making sure that the mobile content does not do anything to jeopardize the desktop rankings. (Many mobile development teams are not hip to basic SEO requirements, and can wreak havoc a domain that otherwise has good SEO.)
I also include Tablet optimization as part of mobile SEO. Google says that the desktop crawler is evaluating tablet content, so it is not that different from desktop SEO, but we are seeing different rankings on tablets than mobile and desktop, so it seems that the algorithmic weighting of SEO elements in tablet rankings is more like what we have seen in the mobile algorithm.
JOE: To most experienced in SEO, it is clear to see how mobile impacts SEO. But for the most part, it’s impact seems to be more indirect, than something like links or title tags. How do you help clients understand the SEO value in mobile marketing?
CINDY: Yes- you are right; I spend very little time focusing on mobile title tags. As long as the mobile pages have title tags that are either unique, and focusing on similar keywords to the corresponding desktop pages or if they are a match to the corresponding desktop pages, then that is great. More and more, as people work with in Responsive Design, mobile title tags and desktop title tags are the same thing anyway. My focus is much more technical – finding ways to either create a tight bond between mobile pages and their corresponding desktop pages, or in the case of Responsive Design, ensuring that the page is sending the right mobile signals and will be well evaluated when it is crawled by the mobile bot. Google recently came out with some mobile UX rules, so I look at how well pages meet those standards too (since these rules are something that the mobile bot can see and evaluate on).
JOE: Google has stated in the past that it prefers webmasters implement responsive designs. Does this mean that sites with “m.” will rank lower? Or should webmasters block the “m.” from even being indexed?
CINDY: Google really does not want webmasters to block ‘m.’ content from crawling, and in the long run, it will hurt your mobile rankings. Google says that having mobile content on an ‘m.’ is just harder for them to crawl and index, so that could cause a slight SEO disadvantage, but they assure webmasters that there is no algorithmic disadvantage. If the ‘m.’ site is a great experience, and it is set up with proper bidirectional attribution, then it should be ok. That said, I have seen sites that change from a ‘m.’ to a Responsive Design approach see a positive impact. There are a lot of other factors that could be in play, but in general, if your Responsive Design site is good and fast, (hard to do), you can expect good things in mobile SEO.
In addition to Responsive Design is something that fewer people are familiar with – Selective Serving; and honestly, for development teams that can pull it off and have the need, it is really the way to go. It is much more technically involved, but can include the best elements from a mobile-only site and a responsive site, and create the best user experience across all devices. The problem is that it is hard to explain, requires additional work and it is actually a lot like old-school cloaking, so I think Google is still too nervous to endorse it broadly, as the ‘best’ solution.
JOE: A recent study by Google shows that search, apps, and branded web sites are all viable channels for mobile marketing. If a client has to prioritize their budget, which of these three should they focus on first?
CINDY: I always recommend starting by getting the website ready for mobile and tablet traffic first. The website can be a spring-board for lots of different marketing campaigns. Starting with an app rarely makes sense, because it will require multiple builds and multiple teams to get apps that work on all the different mobile operating systems. Also, apps tend to require more of a marketing budget to have a strong launch in the app stores, and to drive download velocity (a ranking factor in the app stores).
Also, don’t forget that there are lots of important mobile and tablet use-cases for a website, that cannot be addressed. Remember that if you are sending marketing emails out, lots of those are being viewed on mobile or tablet, rather than desktop or laptop. That means that people will be clicking through from the marketing messages on those devices, and if it is not an optimized experience, the email marketing budget will have been wasted. Same is true for PPC – with ‘Enhanced Campaigns’ it is harder to control what devices are getting to your site – so again, that makes it most important to start with the website, rather than spending your mobile budget on an app. In both cases, you are making existing marketing initiatives more successful, and ensuring a good user experience for the people who are already interested in your brand.
JOE: How does new technology like Google Glass or other wearable computers change mobile marketing landscape?
CINDY: All that stuff is super interesting. It highlights the needs of web developers to think about engagement beyond the mouse or even touch-screen. Gestures and voice commands will be critical in the future, as more and smaller devices become web-enabled. Not all web interactions will include looking at a website – mobile or desktop. It will be much more about seamless transfer of data to and from your devices. For marketers, it will be much more about tracking and storing the data, and thinking of ways to leverage it for more successful campaigns. Big Data bay be getting a bad rap as a cliché buzz word, but marketers who ignore it will be sorry. Even now, many marketers are missing critical opportunities to learn about their customers by aggregating and storing the information and behavior patterns that their customers have – either in apps, emails, websites or in stores.
JOE: A handful of the major players in the social space are talking about “unbundling” their core services into smaller single-use mobile apps, like Facebook’s Messenger. This trend has even been mentioned in regards to Google Plus and Twitter. If this trend is fully realized, how will it impact current mobile marketing efforts that rely on those channels?
CINDY: Meh – I hate Facebook messenger. I actually just re-bundled it with AIM because I don’t want need different IM apps running in the background and beeping at me all the time; (and it was a smart move of AIM to let you add it in!) It seems like it has a lot to do with the big brands finding out what their core competency is, and figuring out how they can differentiate themselves (or not) when they are outside of their core competency. It is an interesting trend, but I think it is more to help the in-house product managers innovate and improve their stuff in faster development cycles and with fewer consequences to the main brand. It may be good for consolidating all the duplicated functionality in the long run, but I don’t feel like it is super-awesome for the current customer experiences. Honestly, I think this strategy has more potential to be more important for Google+ than it does for Facebook –Hopefully it will help them figure out what makes them special and works for users vs what is just a repeat of something that is already being done better by someone else.
JOE: Where do you think the future of mobile marketing is going?
CINDY: I have been saying this for a long time, but I will reiterate it, because I think it is becoming more obvious now – apps are often a necessary evil that we endure until the web is ready to run richer content and host better experiences. Building great content for multiple operating systems or even multiple devices is not sustainable. I also think we are on the brink of a greatly heightened degree of customer tracking that will feed much more targeted marketing campaigns. Cross-device tracking and targeting is going to give marketers a whole new understanding of their customers and their engagement habits.