June 26, 2015

Increase in Mobile Search Affects Local Search Optimization Strategies

A couple walks through a mall, hands filled with shopping bags, searching for their next destination on their smartphone.

By Joseph A.

Anyone active in the digital marketing world surely knows about Mary Meeker’s annual “Internet Trends Report,” even if you don’t have much time to look through it. The 2015 edition consists of around 200 data-filled slides that cover marketing and consumer behavior trends ranging from the increasing importance of millennials to new advertising strategies in China. While it may not sound like the most fascinating read, it’s certainly worth a look for anyone interested in the marketing field.

While 2015 Internet Trends is not primarily focused on local search, Meeker’s report does make some eye-opening observations about it.

Let’s Go Mobile

According to Meeker, there were 80 million mobile phone users around the world in 1995, which represented about 1% of the world’s population. Nowadays there are 5.2  billion mobile phone users, which is a staggering 73% of the population! In the eyes of Google, mobile searches have officially surpassed  desktop searches.

Essentially, if your local search marketing strategy fails to reach mobile consumers, you probably don’t have much of a local search strategy at all. Mobile consumers are no longer the future, they have now taken control of the present. As Meeker reported (and understated), “mobile remains compelling” as the primary digital ad format “because people remain connected 24/7 with their mobile devices.”

A graph of adult users using digital media in the United states from 2008-2015.

The recently published Think With Google post “I-Want-Go Moments” shows that “near me” queries have increased 34 times since 2011. By the end of 2014, more than 80 percent of those searches were conducted on mobile devices. Figuring out what the mobile consumer wants can be very difficult and optimizing location data becomes an extremely important factor. The ideal solution is to offer compelling content that includes particular offers for the customers who need an immediate solution or answer from their mobile device.

Some of the more up-to-date brands understand that consumers use their devices while in a store, not just while searching for a location. Companies like Target provide their consumers with an app to develop shopping lists and locate merchandise within the store.

Meanwhile, Facebook announced it will be handing out free beacons to retailers to help them offer deals and useful content to consumers in-store. Why would they do that? Because Facebook runs  the world, obviously. Also,  the social site operates as a powerful geolocation tool that allows consumers to find recommendations for places to visit.

As Facebook continues to grow its influence, people continue to listen and follow suit. Similarly, when consumers act, as they have done by adopting the mobile search, the entire world reacts.

Not Leather, not Velvet, but Mobile Wallets

The end of Meeker’s report states that the three largest Internet business heavyweights were Apple, Google, and Alibaba. That’s right, Alibaba. Not Facebook or Amazon like most would have guessed.
These three companies have something in common besides topping this list: they’re way ahead of the curve in regards to the mobile payment revolution. Mobile payments have essentially become the fuel of mobile wallets, which will continue to grow in importance as mobile search does. 

Apple is one of the major catalysts in this development, as every major credit card company supports Apple Pay, as do several industry-leading stores. Apple Pay now lets users  add on store cards as well as loyalty and rewards cards, too.

The integration of the mobile wallet into local search results seems inevitable as brands seek to provide instant commerce.

The brands that are converting “near me” searches into money through mobile wallet offers are crossing over the “final hump” of local search. This continued growth of mobile search and the recent rise of mobile wallets has seemingly changed marketing forever. Now it’s time to see which companies adjust and prepare for any future updates that might be on their way.

Has an increase in mobile search affected your local search optimization strategy? Let us know in your comments!

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