Let's look at the data: in 2013, global mobile data traffic grew 81%. Recent studies have shown that 79% of mobile phone owners use their phone for local searches, and 78% of local mobile searches in 2013 resulted in a purchase. As a blogger, I'm admittedly not the best at math, but even I can read the writing on the wall: mobile search is growing, and with that lies a huge opportunity for businesses.
You may be wondering why mobile search has exploded recently. Well, it's a combination of a few things. First of all, our cellular networks are getter better, faster, and stronger. Thanks to these networks' improvements, cell phone users can transfer tons of data quickly and over wireless networks, without much of the fist-clenching frustration one experiences when confronted with the "...buffering..." screen of death. As the user experience continues to improve, mobile phone users are going to continue relying on their smart phones for immediate information.
And when it comes to brick and mortar stores, mobile search engines and smart phones are changing the way people shop. A Think with Google research study showed that 80% of smart phone shoppers use mobile search in the store to help with shopping. Also, mobile search is now the go-to for shoppers looking for a little extra info about the products they're browsing. 82% of shoppers use search engines for gathering product information while in the store.
At the same time, desktop search is on the decline. eMarketer found that desktop search ad spending will drop $1.4 billion this year, or 9.4%; in 2013, desktop search fell to 63% of Google's ad revenues, down from 72.7% in 2012. By 2015, mobile search is expected to surpass desktop search in volume.
You're probably thinking to yourself, "Hey, Kristen, this is a lot of information you're throwing at me. What do all these mobile search statistics and trends actually mean for my business?"
Great question. Simply put, it's time to jump on the mobile search bandwagon. Your customers are using their phones to look for your business, and it's your job to make sure you show up when they're searching. Here are a few ways to use mobile search to your company's advantage:
1. Make sure your website is optimized for local SEO
Mobile search and local SEO go together like peanut butter and apples (I hate jelly)- in fact, 88% of consumers use a smartphone to search with local intent. You need to be showing up in those results. Local search and mobile search optimization are going to continue to work hand-in-hand (smartphone-in-hand?), so working on these two forms of optimization simultaneously is a good idea.
2. Optimize your PPC ads
Using PPC ads? Set those up for localized success as well. Google recommends optimizing your ads for the searcher's location, adding helpful extensions (especially your location and click to call), and using radius bidding to engage consumers near your stores.
Regarding click to call, one of the biggest advantages of mobile search is the ease with which customers can simply tap the screen on their smart phone to call your business. According to a Google study, 70% of mobile searchers use click to call, and these calls are an important channel for consumers. Huffington Post has a great infographic about how click-to-call technology and inbound calls are increasing conversions. Don't miss out on this advantage.
3. Give them your digits
Along the same lines, list your company's phone number (along with name and address) in every contact profile you have, making especially sure to claim your business place on Google.
4. Optimize your website for mobile.
When customers visit your site on their phone, it shouldn't just be a tinier version of your desktop website- Derek Zoolander would tell you "The website has to be... at least three times bigger than this!" Well, more specifically, your viewport needs to be configured so that your site fits the width of a mobile device, font sizes need to be legible, and your tap targets need to be sized appropriate (get more info here from the Google Webmaster Central blog). If customers search for your site and it takes a long time to load, it's hard to read, or your "Click Here" buttons make their fingers feel fat, they're going to look for a more user-friendly option.
Smart phones are getting smarter- and so are their users. As mobile search continues to grow, businesses will need to make sure to stay up to date with the latest mobile search trends. Just ask Siri.