This year’s big trend in search marketing is slated to be the rise of mobile, as according to eMarketer, mobile and tablet searches will overtake desktop for the first time ever this year.
Whether it’s an individual walking down the street or a business owner on his way to a meeting, both consumers and B2B users are moving their searches to mobile. And when someone’s on the go, their search tends to be for something local – will local branches of your business be the first pin on the map?
The rollout of 4G networks across the UK and the ubiquity of the smartphone are both key drivers of the widespread shift to mobile. Google has also updated its algorithm to prioritise mobile-friendly sites, leading to a smoother customer experience that skips the frustration of hitting a Flash-only brick wall.
All these developments have changed the way users approach search. In a desktop browser, everyone knows that typing keywords into Google will bring up the most relevant results.
When the same search is performed on Siri or another mobile voice search platform, the search becomes a question – a change that’s critical to understand in order to optimise your company’s rankings.
Marketing teams should take note of the fact that a given person’s behaviour changes when he or she is out and about. For example, standard mobile phone searches tend to be more urgent since potential customers are more likely to be looking for something right here, right now.
The immediacy of mobile search means that it’s imperative that localised searches factor into your overall digital marketing strategy in 2015, lest you should miss out on consumers’ last-minute whims.
While on the move, searches tend to be shorter and more colloquial because people don’t spend the time thinking of a long-tail relevant search. They want the here and now rather than the future.
In order to take full advantage of the rewards offered by localised search, you need to monitor this world closely. When patterns change this dramatically, it requires a reconsideration of what success looks like.
With mobile search, the best result is a customer on your doorstep making a real world transaction, which your existing systems might not be able to track. So step back and take a holistic view to ensure your conversion rates are telling the whole story.
For small, local operations and global brands with dozens or even hundreds of locations alike, mobile search opens doors. Speaking to Marketing Donut, Fiona Humberstone of Flourish Design and Marketing explains:
Although we sometimes work for companies located elsewhere in the UK and even overseas, the bulk of our business comes from Guildford and surrounding areas in Surrey. Localising our SEO means we’ll hopefully stand a much better chance of getting sales and enquiries from search engine results pages used by businesses nearby.
Localised search makes sense: it can scale by country or even continent for multi-national players, and also funnel local sales leads for smaller business that want to bring customers to their doorstep.
Where to Start
Google would like us to believe that customer experience is at the heart of everything it does, so when generating its rankings (even for PPC), the search engine will also consider the content of a company’s landing page. With this in mind, the first point of action is to make sure your content is relevant and your whole website mobile-ready in order to improve usability and move up in the search rankings.
Also, consider using mobile-targeted PPC campaigns. You can monitor what your competitors are doing using Adthena’s mobile competitive intelligence for search platform and compare how you could shift your desktop strategy to mobile in order to embrace these on-th-move, local searches.
Focus PPC Activity
When localising search, you have to also reconsider your established keywords. For example, specific regions may be dominated by different dialects. Variations in vernacular exist even within the UK, like the way “dinner” means lunch in the north of England but refers to an evening meal in the south.
To drum up business for a particular branch of a business in Yorkshire, your keywords need to speak like a local.
As with any campaign, set a budget, monitor your results using competitive intelligence for search, and perfect your campaign as you go. One size does not fit all, so test and re-test until you get the desired results. The field of search engine marketing is constantly evolving: make sure your strategy can change with it.
(Main image credit: Tristan Martin/flickr)