In reputation management, it is one thing to be able to create an amazing SERP filled with 10 fantastic, natural-looking links, but is entirely another to be able to follow through from that SERP to provide great web experiences for those people who are looking for your brand name online.
Reputation management isn’t just about making a SERP look good, it is about giving people an experience that benefits and satisfies their needs. To that effect, the web is changing dramatically. Just in the last 5 years, we’ve seen the rise of the social web, and now we’re experiencing another shift—to mobile. Mobile web use has been growing rapidly for the last few years, and it is estimated that mobile web use will surpass desktop web use in 2013 (source). So, more and more of the searches that are taking place online are occurring on mobile devices. And mobile users expect just as much out of their mobile web use as they do out of the desktop web use.
In fact, in July 2011, Compuware released the findings of a study on mobile use indicating that:
- 1/3 of mobile users will turn to a competitor’s site if they have a bad mobile experience
- Nearly half of mobile users are unlikely to return to a website via a desktop browser that they had trouble accessing on their mobile device
- Only 50% of mobile users are willing to wait more than 5 seconds for a mobile site to load before leaving
So how are we preparing for the mobile web through our reputation management strategies? There are two ways to create engaging mobile experiences for the web, through a mobile website and through a responsive web design.
Creating a separate mobile site for your web properties is the oldest way to create engaging mobile experiences online. Creating an alternative mobile site is the best way to control exactly what your users will see when they click through from the SERP. When you build a mobile site, you know that the online experience will be exactly the same for every user and that the experience will be consistent across different devices.
However, building alternative sites for each web property takes a lot of work and can be hard to maintain. In addition, you need to make sure that your mobile site is similar to your desktop site, or you will risk alienating users who switch between the two experiences.
Building a responsive website from the ground up is a complete rethinking of what a website can be. Instead of defining exactly what each user will see, despite different screen sizes, a responsive web design uses CSS to dynamically generate your website to fit any screen size. That means you don’t need to create a separate mobile site because your website changes to fit mobile as well as desktop sized screens.
The advantages are that mobile users and desktop users have virtually the same experience and you won’t have to worry about disorienting users who may switch from one device to another. Additionally, you won’t need to bother with creating two separate web designs. On the other hand, a responsive web design needs to be created from the ground up—meaning a complete site redesign to existing properties—which can take time and money to complete.
Mobile Is an Experience
Keep in mind that reputation management is more than just getting a good SERP. It’s about follow through on the platforms you can control. If you can make your brand seem that much more appealing by creating an engaging and consistent mobile experience for anyone who may be searching for you online, then you’ll truly be creating a positive online reputation.