As some of you know I live on the island of Kauai in the Hawaiian Islands. Our largest industry is tourism. Every day we have more than 23,000 visitors with mobile devices looking for local business information. On top of that we have daily visitors streaming off cruise ships with their mobile devices. And we have 65,000 full-time residents that need to find information about local goods and services. After all, you can’t just drive off the island to buy something! These consumers are increasingly using mobile local search to find information. And people searching on a mobile device are closer to a purchase and more likely to take action than with traditional desktop searches.
Mobile Search and Local Search Marketing are Converging
It’s imperative for most of the local businesses that I serve to be optimized for both mobile and local search. But it’s not just for local, small businesses on my island. Large brands such as Ace Hardware in the U.S. and Argos in the U.K. are using mobile combined with local search marketing to drive customers into their stores. It’s no longer a nice-to-have. Mobile Local Search Marketing is a must-have!
Google has reported that more than 50% of searches are now done on mobile devices. On-the-go consumers are looking for local information.
- 52% of searches on smartphones are done in the car or away from home and work (source: Thrive Analytics)
- 60% of consumers use a smartphone while shopping and this number is growing over time (source: Thrive Analytics)
- 37% of all consumers use mobile search to look for local products and services, but the percentages are much, much higher for Gen X and Y consumers (source: Thrive Analytics)
- 70% of consumers prefer a mobile website over a mobile app for local information (source: LSA Local Media Tracking Study 2014)
- 56% of smartphone searches on the go or in a store have local intent (source: Google)
- 63% of consumers use multiple devices to find a local business and 79% of them are smartphone users and 81% are tablet owners (source: comScore study)
- 24% of local searches done via a mobile app are done through Facebook (they are number two behind Google Maps – source: comScore study)
The data are compelling. These are trends that will continue to increase.
How to Optimize for Converged Mobile Local Search Marketing
So how do you optimize for Mobile Local Search Marketing? I’ve blogged before about Mobile First Marketing and about Mobile Meltdown Day (that some other bloggers have also called Mobilegeddon!) Those posts also still apply here. But let’s look specifically at some things your business can do to be found on the first screen of a local search on a mobile device:
- Have a mobile friendly web site that passes Google’s test – If your web site on a smartphone requires someone to scroll left and right or to pinch and zoom to be able to read something, then you need to update your web site now. As of April 21, 2015, Google started penalizing you in mobile search ranking.
- Ensure your Google My Business listing is up to date – If you haven’t registered on Google My Business, do it! If you have, make sure information is up to date and that your business name, address, and phone number are consistent with other places you are listed on the Web. Having a Google My Business listing gives you a better mobile local search position and gives you a listing in Google Maps.
- Include images in Google My Business – Make it easy for consumers to identify you and your products/services
- Make location prominent on your web site – Have your location in relevant places such as title tags, description, and in your content
- Ensure images on your web site are compressed and consolidated – Load time for your site is important, so make sure your images are optimized.
- Get listed on other relevant business directories – Get a profile on Yelp, Yahoo, Bing Local, other local directories, plus directories relevant to your industry
- Make sure your NAP (name, address, phone) are consistent everywhere on the Web – Google wants to know you are real, accurate, valuable and nearby to its customers in search results
- Get reviews and recommendations – Reviews on Google and Yelp will also help your mobile local search ranking (make sure they’re positive!)
- Create local content in your blog – Local content in your blog will also help to position you for mobile local search
- Create a business Facebook page – For consumers doing mobile local search in the Facebook mobile app, be sure you have a business page with name, address, and phone number
These are some highlights for optimizing for mobile local search, but for a very detailed list of factors and weights specific to Google local search ranking take a look at Moz’s 2014 Local Search Ranking Factors.
Besides the basics, there are some other things you may want to consider to increase the amount of business you get from mobile local search. It may also be a good idea to have a click to call button so people can easily reach you. And you may want to consider other geolocation features that attract people who are nearby.
You may also want to consider PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising on mobile devices. These ads typically display at the top or bottom of the screen. If you are not highly optimized for mobile local search, this can be a way to make your business visible on the first screen. And if you are optimized, you could potentially have your business displayed three times on the first screen:
- Google My Business listing
- Mobile Local Search results
- PPC ad
Are you optimized for mobile, but not for local search? Are you optimized for local, but not mobile search? Or are you not optimized for either? An investment in mobile local search, possibly combined with PPC mobile ads, will help today’s consumer to find you. Because they are closer to an action or purchase decision than a desktop searcher, this is an investment that will drive real business results.
What do you think? What have you done with local and mobile search optimization? What have you learned? Are there other tips you would share?