Is Your Website Mobile-Friendly for Tourists?

icy-snowy-tunnelFor me, Winter is ‘down time’ for our business in the Blue Ridge mountains. Although our webstore is open year round, our brick-and-mortar retail shop is closed until May.

Winter is a time to get caught up on reading, and to work on websites, catalogs and new projects. And I’ve already found one that needs my attention. It’s a new idea that deserves your consideration too.

A new challenge for rural small businesses in 2010, and tourist businesses in particular, is to make their websites and blogs more readable online, or ‘mobile friendly’.

New services like Yelp and Twitter geolocation have come on the scene, joining iPhone and Blackberry, and making mobile search more popular than ever.

In Make Your Site Mobile-Friendly For The New Year, Lisa Barone tells us that the number of people accessing the Web through mobile phones is up 34% from last year alone (56.9 million people), and they aren’t very happy when they have difficulty reading the sites they try to visit, or slow speed as a site loads. Apparently they expect our sites to load as quickly (or more quickly) on their mobile devices.

What should a mobile site contain?

“It should contain only the information that would be most vital to someone looking up your site on the go.

Mobile searchers are typically people on a mission. They’re looking for an address or a phone number because they’re lost. They want a menu. They want hours or need a map to see which points of interest you’re near. Your mobile site should be set up to immediately address these questions so that you can take advantage of these targeted searchers.”

Do you know how your site looks to tourists traveling your area, actively looking for places to visit?

You can get direct links to both paid and free services that will give you a glimpse of how your business is seen by the traveling public using mobile devices by visiting this website.

And lest we think that this is just another passing fad, you might want to take a quick look at some startling statistics in Top 10 Reasons Your Website Should Go Mobile. Apparently 20% of Americans access the mobile web every day, and the mobile web is expected to be more popular than the desktop web within five years.

Google even has a separate index for mobile search content.

As more of our customers engage in ROBO behavior – Research Online and Buying Offline – even our local customers may be using mobile search to double-check our hours before driving our way. Certainly we know the traveling public will be.

I just set up a mobile-friendly site for this Backroads Business blog at mofuse, and installed via the admin dashboard a free Word Press plugin that detects when a visitor is using a mobile device, and redirects them to the mobile version of the blog.

It took me all of five minutes. Creating a mobile version of my website will take a little longer, and apparently a little money ($7.95 a month).

If we want tourists to find us and visit us easily, becoming more ‘mobile friendly’ is obviously a road we must travel down ourselves.

What steps can you take to explore this idea for your own business?

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