Could Mobile Apps Kill SEO and SEM?

Mobile web traffic accounts for about 60% of the visitors for many ecommerce sites, but only 15 percent of the conversions, and one of the reasons behind this is that the mobile commerce experience is generally a poor one. So poor, in fact, that there is a growing trend towards users choosing to launch apps on their mobiles rather than visit websites. Mobile apps are becoming increasingly popular because they offer a fast and smooth native experience. They have forms that are easier to fill out, menus that are easier to navigate, and layouts that make sense for a mobile screen.

SEO Will Need to Change

As mobile apps become more popular, this means that SEO and SEM as we know it will change. This has already happened, to an extent, as Google is starting to offer app indexing, but the other search engines are lagging behind and this is producing an increasingly fragmented marketplace. In the Local Search marketplace we have Yelp, Foursquare, TripAdvisor as the most popular mapping services. For shopping, there is Ebay and Amazon, as well as smaller, niche shopping platforms. Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram dominate social media. Google’s position as a one stop shop for the web may be coming under threat. For webmasters who want to attract mobile users, the choice is difficult. Should you build an app and hope that users install it, or focus on designing a great website? The best option could well be to do both – create a responsive, good looking website that provides a low friction shopping experience, and wrap it into an app for users that want to always have the store one button press away. Shopping platforms such as WooCommerce are becoming increasingly friendly for mobile users, and a traditional website is still the best option for ranking well in Google. That may change as mobile operating systems become more sophisticated and things like Google Now, Cortana and Siri get better at understanding what users want, but for now apps exist almost as a separate entity to the rest of the web. They may be powered by similar technologies, but they are not indexed or linked to in the same way, and this makes discoverability and interoperability a serious hurdle for developers. It is still worth investing the time in app development, however, as those who establish a good reputation in the app space today will be in a good position when the search engines do finally catch up.


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