By Dale Filhaber
According to Google, 84 percent of consumers use search engines to gather information for local purchases. We all log into our cell phones for all sorts of information, from finding restaurants, to getting weather reports and researching things we want to buy. We have become a nation of explorers with instantaneous tools at our fingertips to help us navigate and investigate potential purchases, compare features and prices and help us thoroughly understand an item before we finalize a buying decision. This is especially true with expensive purchases, such as a water conditioning system.
Last month, however, Google began prioritizing mobile optimized websites in search results on smart phones, boosting sites that are mobile-friendly (for example, those that load quickly on devices, have a responsive design, etc.) and demoting those that are not optimized. Sites that may have been on the front page of a search-word return result may be pushed several links down on the page—if not pushed off the front page entirely. While this shouldn’t affect desktop and laptop browsing, Google’s news seems to reflect how people are conducting their searches for information these days: on their smart phones. According to comScore, 184 million people own and/or use smart phones for their searching. Google Search is the fourth most popular app used on their phones (51.5 percent, behind Facebook, YouTube and Google Play). Regardless of how consumers are searching for the products and services you provide, your business needs to be found.
Every business needs to take a self-test to see how their website measures up.Visit https://developers.google.com/webmasters/mobile-sites/get-started/?utm_source=wmc-blog&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=mobile-friendly to take the self test. If your website is not mobile-compatible, what should you do? You need to go online and investigate your options. While this may not be life and death for a dealership today, it’s something that needs to be dealt with soon. As consumers continue to become more accustomed to using technology for product research, mobile-search capabilities will continue to increase in strategic importance. For businesses that have relied predominantly on web searches to be found (such as restaurants, locksmiths and funeral homes), mobile compatibility is a more vital component today.
Dealers need to start doing research to decide how to move forward and go online to search for the best solution. Many businesses are turning to templated websites (such as WordPress, Joomla or Drupal) to create a sharp-looking, mobile-compatible website with a minimum investment. Right now, 23 percent of websites currently up and running are powered by WordPress, which offers low-cost, simple websites (a template starts at about $50), blogs, as well as plug-ins (additional program pieces) for complex portals and enterprise websites. Visit WordPress.com and take a look at the many themes offered (the look and feel of a particular design). In addition to those, there are hundreds of other companies that offer additional themes that may be appropriate for your size and scope of business. While the instructions say you can do this yourself (and many people do), many businesses contract with a developer to customize a WordPress (or other company’s) theme to get their new site up and running. The cost of a developer to do this can run anywhere from $250 into the thousands of dollars.
Every water dealership needs to be easily found by consumers. If a website is buried by the pre-eminent search tool and cannot be found, it could mean a tremendous loss to the bottom line. Optimization of a company website is the best way to retain relevance in an increasingly technological business environment.
About the author
Dale ‘DataDale’ Filhaber is President of Dataman Group Direct, a Florida-based direct-marketing company founded in 1981. She is an author, lecturer and Listologist. In the past 25+ years, Filhaber has trained many water quality dealers in direct marketing and lead generation techniques, ranging from direct mail to telemarketing to social media. In the water industry, she has published articles in multiple industry magazines, is the author of Pure Water Profits (a bi-weekly blog on marketing) and recently participated in the webinar Perfecting the in-Home Sale. Filhaber is also a frequent guest lecturer at the annual WQA Aquatech conference.