As sophisticated smartphones and faster internet connections gain greater market share, accessing the Web via mobile devices is becoming standard practice. 45% of all consumers use a smartphone for in-store product research and browsing, 72% of tablet owners make purchases from their devices on a weekly basis, 60+% US accessing mobile Internet. Mobile is no longer the future of search, it’s search now.
Mobile search continues to grow exponentially and mobile search results are moving toward parity with their desktop counterpart. Though mobile results favor local information and certain types of searches – such as those for weather or stock quotes – will trigger specialized widgets in Google, otherwise, there has been very little difference between the mobile and desktop search results. But newer technologies like Google Glass have the potential to dramatically change mobile search. The cards on Google Now, along with personal assistants like Apple’s Siri, indicate a future where – by leveraging semantic data – mobile apps serve answers instead of lists of results, changing both the nature of search and the Internet.
Google estimates 1 in 3 searches relate to local information. Nearly all smartphone users (95%) have looked for local information and these users are ready to take action with 88% acting on the information they find within a day, indicating their information needs are immediate. Google and Yahoo place greater emphasis on local business listings and maps within their respective mobile search products. To increase visibility within local search, submission of local business feeds is critical for success. Incorporating location-based products and services is also recommended.
Best Practices for Mobile Search
It’s often a good idea to do separate mobile keyword research and search behavior analysis. Demographic research can help you understand your mobile search audience, which may be quite different from the desktop audience. Without targeted mobile research, you could be missing opportunities.
Mobile tend to want to get to the point as quickly as possible. Whether they seek information or to make a transaction, building a mobile experience designed around getting users to that information or action as quickly is possible is ideal. Google stands behind multiple approaches for building smartphone-optimized websites that deliver the best mobile experience for your customers, including separate desktop and mobile URLs, responsive design and adaptive design.
If you build a separate mobile site…
Ensure enough text-based content is present on mobile-only pages to convey the relevancy of the page to search engines, and use bidirectional annotations and canonical tags to avoid duplicate content issues.
If you don’t build out a separate mobile site…
Ensure that your desktop pages render in an alternate mobile-friendly view for smaller screens and limited bandwidth.