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Mobile Search…Is It Finally On Its Way?

We’ve all heard it before, and we’re all tired of hearing it – WAIT, STOP EVERYTHING…MOBILE IS COMING!!! With the same seemingly unending enthusiasm accompanying the “news” every time – I’ve been hearing this for between 2-3 years now…

Could it finally be on its way though? There have been a few news items and other indicators I’ve observed recently that make me think it could well be (albeit a few years overdue). Shocking I know but I think its true – for a few industries anyway and in a different way to what we’d automatically think. See my 6 reasons below:

1. Mobile Conversions Can Be Defined By Calls to the Business
The parameters and precise definitions as to what counts as a completed conversion is of course, largely variable. It can be a URL, a sale, a phone call, a contact request or a whitepaper download. We can generally figure out what will count as a desktop website conversion though when we discuss the internet objectives with the business owner and look at the type of business we’re dealing with. But how does this transition to mobile? If you have a dedicated mobile site then of course, you can set these up just as you would with the desktop website – however I still think in this instance mobile conversions are going to be low when compared to desktop conversions.

Where I think mobile could come into its own is with monitoring phone queries and initial contact emails – I can’t imagine someone purchasing a product on their phone, I can though see them Googling a business, locating their number and calling them up. In which case a) mobile search could indeed be here and as big as they say and b) businesses need a website where their contact information is easily accessible and viewable by mobile!

Additionally for this though, branding becomes even more important. If someone is looking for a specific address or phone number for a particular business, they’ve got to have heard about the business prior to searching for it on Google…

2. Mobile Searchers Convert More
Check out this news item on Mobile Search Conversions. Thoughts? Mine are that a) since large companies are looking at this perhaps we should be too b) that mobile will prove more profitable for certain industries over others i.e. travel and c) that two of the three top mobile search activities included in this post are to do with locating contact details quickly and on the go, reiterating my above point about businesses having their contact information viewable, easily accessible and quick to download via mobile.

3. Appstack 
I blogged about this company back in June 2012, Appstack – the winner of Best Business Model in the US. They’ve had investment from Google…and their product is linked in with Adwords. They’ve also reported good growth too in a short period of time and are not short of investors. Perhaps this company is a useful indicator of what’s going on in the US which will surely make its way over to the UK, offering a cheap way to create, monitor and monetize a mobile website for your business.

4. AdWords Keyword Research Tool
I’ve only looked briefly but I wonder about monitoring mobile search volume using the desktop vs. mobile devices search filter on the Google Adwords tool. I’ve set up 10 keywords which I’ll monitor and include in a later blog. At present though mobile searches get about 20% the search volume that desktop searches do for terms about estate agents, Italian restaurants, car parks, central London pubs and gift ideas. Property and cars get less than 20% whilst interestingly; searches about cinema listings and costs of items such as iPhone get upwards of 65% the amount of searches that the desktop searches get. Definitely something that seems to be industry specific.

5. Response of Big Retailers
The keyword here is retailers; again I wonder about the impact of mobile search for those less obvious industries. If I do a mobile search now for John Lewis, Tesco or any other big brands I expect to see a mobile site pop up on my iPhone or tablet. If I don’t, I think badly on the company, therefore if jumping on the bandwagon is your marker for if an initiative is taking off or not, this one certainly is.

6. Google AdWords Spend Analysis
Read this fantastic post on AdWords spend. One of the five insights which made me think most was the one about mobile search. This insight said that profits were down because mobile search monetized far less effectively than desktop search. From this I believe I’m correct in assuming that mobile search gets a decent enough proportion of search volume to make an impact. As to why it does not monetize so effectively users are far less likely to click on ads when on a mobile, perhaps this could be because they are more likely to have a specific intent when searching, again something that makes mobile attractive for businesses.

So, there we have it, 6 indications why I think mobile could possibly be here – please leave your thoughts below, mine are – it’s about bloomin time.

  1. Think it is well and truly here, and in new ways that we’ll all have to learn about. The dawn of voice recognition such as Siri means that we’re searching in new ways with our phones. I think it’ll take on a life of it’s own for situations where you need an instant answer, an immediate example is when our train to Ascot was taken out of service and we needed a taxi fast!

    I think it’ll be great for shops and on-demand services, though looking at Analytics for the last few months it’s becoming increasingly important to optimise regular sites for mobile too.

    • I agree that it’s here but its in such a different way to what I thought (perhaps naively) that it would be. I think it’s worlds away from desktop search and as such we need to treat it completely differently too. Any tips on optimising regular sites for mobile that don’t want to create a brand new site?

  2. Sorry Charlotte, I only just saw your follow-up comment :-)

    It completely depends on the platform. There are platforms such as Magento for e-commerce that make optimising for mobile comparatively easy. I also think that implementing Rich Snippets and marking up your site to work with will become quite important for search engines looking to extract relevant information from your site, though this spans more than mobile.

    I think that the amount you need to worry about mobile right now should depend on how you intend to use it and whether that’s where your market searches. As with anything, it’s about identifying where your audience is and making it as easy as you can for them to find you. If you fall into this bracket with mobile, it might be time to look at mobile strategies.

    Also, the amount that I use the phrase “I think” shows how new and untested a lot of this stuff is, so test all the relevant options and see what converts best for you.

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