Local search evolution. We’ve seen some major shifts in the past several years, as more users turned to their mobile devices for primary usage. This increasingly large set of users has given search giants more reasons to further improve their platforms. For example, while Marissa Mayer was still at Google, her focus shifted from overall search products to managing geographic and local services. This marked a major change for Google, as it moved to focus heavily on improving local search. The company had also introduced ads within its Maps app in August 2013, allowing marketers to leverage Google’s reach by adding local extensions to their ads, which requires linking Google AdWords and Google My Business accounts.
In May 2014, Google released an interesting study on local search behavior, which showed that mobile search ads can be powerful if local information is included within the ads and these ads are targeted to specific locations. Google even went as far as to say that mobile ads will eventually be more valuable than PC ads. Even its most recent update, released in late July, tied traditional local search more deeply into Web search ranking signals, as well as improved distance and location ranking parameters.
Mobile search platforms. Google remains the default mobile search engine on Apple and Android devices, giving it a near monopoly on mobile search. In June 2014, Google Search and Maps were the fourth and sixth most used smartphone apps respectively, but other apps, such as Yelp and TripAdvisor, are beginning to take some mobile search share. As more users shift their media time to mobile, understanding the role of leading apps in mobile search is a tactic that nontraditional search companies are beginning to take full advantage of.
Mobile conversion. For online retail, smartphone conversion rates are typically lower than for their PC counterpart. However, it’s important to know that mobile sessions are only one part of the conversion process. In most cases, these are additional brand interactions that wouldn’t happen without smartphones.
Mobile search best practices need to be implemented to account for audio search, the consumer’s need for urgency and a comparison shopping mindset. Once this mindset is addressed, the conversion process can be configured in a meaningful way.
According to a recent eMarketer report, mobile will account for 85.9% of digital ad search dollars by 2018. As mobile continues to be the primary choice for many users, you need to determine and prioritize your mobile search initiatives. Without a strategic plan to leverage mobile search, you’ll lose the ability to target an increasingly large number of users.