8/18/2013

Will App SEO Replace Conventional Web SEO? Bet on it.

Mobile Web Apps Poised to Start SEO Turf War?

The Future of Web Apps

Just doing some research recently and saw the convergence of web apps, mobile traffic, and the resulting decline of desktops, laptops, and the "usual suspect" sites as we know them.

This of course means that SEO will be turning a rather sharp corner - but then, they're used to it.


Because the mobile web is taking over the Internet, and apps are taking over the mobile web. Which means that getting web apps to show up top in the various app stores will be key. Meanwhile, web apps need to be able to give ready conversions and regular service to be of any real use. (Free might get downloaded and used once, but to get repeat traffic, there needs to be real value in that. (Tricks like irregular "updating" and direct messaging have to be watched, since spamming will get your app deleted as quickly...)


Mobile Website vs. App Traffic [CHART]
Jumptap Mobile Traffic Trends Mar2013 Mobile Website vs. App Traffic, March 2011 March 2013 [CHART]
A recent study from Compuware found that 85% of mobile application users prefer them to the mobile web, primarily as a result of convenience and speed. Now new data from Jumptap suggests that mobile app traffic has grown considerably, at the expense of the mobile web. According to Jumptap’s mobileSTAT report, apps represent 84% of the network’s mobile traffic, up from 69% a year ago, and 45% 2 years ago.
Share of eCommerce Traffic From Smart Devices, Q1 2012 – Q1 2013 [CHART]
Monetate Ecommerce Traffic Share Smart Devices Q12012 Q12013 May2013 Share of eCommerce Traffic From Smart Devices, Q1 2012   Q1 2013 [CHART]

Smart phones and tablets continue to wield strong influence as shopping devices, per the latest quarterly e-commerce report from Monetate. Tablets accounted for 10.6% of e-commerce site traffic in Q1, up from8.9% a quarter earlier, while smartphones also exceeded 10% of traffic
(10.44%), though with only slight growth from the previous quarter. The report also shows that in Q1, tablet traffic converted at a slightly higher rate than traditional computers (2.6% and 2.5%, respectively), with smartphone conversion rates (0.8%) continuing to lag.
Among tablets, the iPad continued to sport the highest conversion rate (2.7%), with Android (2%) also out ahead of the Kindle Fire (1.5%). The iPad also boasted the highest average order value ($99.05), though that figure has declined for several quarters, and is down from an average of $120.26 in Q1 2012. In terms of traffic share, the iPad dipped fractionally to 89.3%, continuing a gradual downward, while Android rose to 8.2% share of tablet traffic from just 4.8% a year earlier. Read the rest at MarketingCharts.
User Acquisition: Mobile Applications and the Mobile Web | Psychohistory

For the last few years, the debate between building native applications vs. mobile web sites has raged.  (In Silicon Valley, bar fights break out over things like this.) Developers love the web as a platform.  As a community, we have spent the last fifteen years on standards, technologies, environments and processes to produce great web-based software.  A vast majority of developers don’t want to go back to the days of desktop application development.
Makes you wonder why we have more than a million native applications out there across platforms.
Native Apps Work
If you are religious about the web as a platform, the most upsetting thing about native applications is that they work.  The fact is, in almost every case, the product manager who pushes to launch a native application is rewarded with metrics that go up and to the right.  As long as that fact is true, we’re going to continue to see a growing number of native applications.
But why do they work?
There are actually quite a few aspects to the native application ecoystem that make it explosively more effective than the desktop application ecosystem of the 1990s.  Covering them all would be a blog post in itself.  But in the context of user acquisition, I’ll posit a dominant, simple insight:
Native applications generate organic traffic, at scale.
On the web, no one knows how to grow organic traffic in an effective, measurable way.  However, launch a native application, and suddenly you start seeing a large number of organic visits.  Organic traffic is often the most engaged traffic.  Organic traffic has strong intent.  On the web, they typed in your domain for a reason.  They want you to give them something to do.  They are open to suggestions.  They care about your service enough to engage voluntarily.  It’s not completely apples-to-apples, but from a metrics standpoint, the usage you get when someone taps your application icon behaves like organic traffic.
Mobile Web App vs. Native App? It's Complicated - Forbes
Global mobile statistics 2013 Section E: Mobile apps, app stores, pricing and failure rates | mobiThinking
Mobile apps and mobile Websites are two entirely different things and serve different markets, but there is sometimes confusion among people who are new to mobile. A mobile app is not a substitute for a mobile-optimized Website, for the following reasons:
• Far more people use cell phones to access the Internet than download apps. There are 2.1 billion active mobile broadband subscriptions worldwide (ITU, February 2013). While the number of mobile broadband subs is usually a good indicator of mobile Web users, it could be considerably higher than this – as you don’t need a 3G subscription to access the Web on a handset, in China, alone, there are estimated to 420 million mobile Web users (CNNIC, February 2013). Any which way, the number of mobile Web users will dwarf the 1.2 billion people worldwide who use apps (Portio Research, March 2013).
• While it is possible that a mobile Web user may never download/use a native app, it is unfeasible that a native app user would never use the mobile Web. At some point they will always click a link to a third-party Website, either from an app, or from a banner ad in an app or an SMS or email. For some activities, such as researching a purchase, mobile Web will always be preferable. What’s easier, doing a Web search for an item, e.g. a new TV, then visiting each review, retailer and brand site or opening each retailer’s app one after another to find the best deal? Research by Google (April 2013) found that 65 percent of US smartphone shoppers preferred to use mobile Web to mobile apps for shopping. Similarly a study by Nielsen (February 2012) found that retailers’ mobile sites are up to two times more popular over the Christmas shopping period than apps.
• Mobile Web sites work on any handset with a mobile browser (the vast majority of handsets). While apps could be designed for any handset, the present trend is to concentrate on smartphones, often restricting coverage to one or two types of smartphones. Smartphone penetration only recently broke the 1 billion mark, according to Strategy Analytics (October, 2012) – that means that even if you develop an app for every smartphone platform, you exclude 80 percent of mobile users.
• N.B. While mobile apps and mobile Websites should never be regarded as rivals, mobile apps and Web-based mobile apps can be considered rivals.
Summary:
We then know 2 things:
  1. Your site better be ready for mobile if you want to capture sales.
  2. You'd better have an app out there which will help your clients select your site over others'. 


As to development, it looks like HTML5 is becoming the default base, as Intel's XDK and the FirefoxOS are pushing this. The XDK will port to a variety of platforms:

HTML5 | Intel® Developer Zone
Intel® XDK - Cross-platform development kit Use the power of HTML5 and Intel's cross-platform tools, to write your app's once and distribute broadly. With the Intel® XDK, developers really can “write it once, deploy to many.” Build for iOS Tablets, iOS Smartphones, Android Tablets, Android Smartphones, Google Play Store, Amazon App Store, Mozilla App Store, Facebook App Center, and the Google Chrome store.
Meanwhile, Firefox has a simple plug-in so you can develop apps for it's Firefox OS.
Firefox OS - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Firefox OS[4] (project name: Boot to Gecko, also known as B2G)[5] is a Linux-based open-source operating system for smartphones and tablet computers. It is being developed by Mozilla, the non-profit organization best known for the Firefox web browser. It is designed to provide a "complete"[6] community-based alternative system for mobile devices, using open standards and approaches such as HTML5 applications, JavaScript, a robust privilege model, open web APIs to communicate directly with cellphone hardware,[5] and application marketplace. As such, it competes with proprietary systems such as Apple's iOS, Google's Android, and Microsoft's Windows Phone[6] as well as other upcoming open source systems under development such as Ubuntu Touch.
Firefox OS was publicly demonstrated in February 2012, on Android-compatible smartphones,[7][8] and again in 2013 running on Raspberry Pi.[9] In January 2013, at CES 2013, ZTE confirmed they would be shipping a smartphone with Firefox OS,[10] and on July 2, 2013, Telefónica launched the first commercial Firefox OS based phone, ZTE Open, in Spain[11][12] which was quickly followed by Geeksphone's Peak+.[13]
All of this makes for a very interesting world.

I'm off to check for Alexa and Pagerank for apps now. Let you know what I find in a later blog post...
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