Mobile Search Insights

New York Times Reports on Innovations in Mobile Search

Google-Mobile-SearchThere was a really good article that appeared in the New York Times back on April 25th that I just managed to find. You can read the article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/25/technology/25mobile.html?_r=1 and I encourage you to do so as it gives some really great insight into what Google is doing these days to innovate and make sure they keep their 97% market share.

Why is mobile search so important?

Mobile searches are gaining ground at the same pace that desktop or non-mobile searches grew at when Google first launched according to the article. Also in the article we learn that searches conducted on mobile phones will one day soon out-pace those done in non-mobile environments. As a smart-phone (Android) user with an (as of now) unlimited data plan I am quick to search for things on my phone. Google doesn’t expect that mobile searching will replace searches conducted on traditional devices and their data shows that people are more likely to search during the lunch or evening hours.

So mobile is going to be king one day – what does that mean for your business?

It means you need to be in the game. The NYT article reports that mobile search algorithms are slightly different than their  non-mobile brethren in that they give more weight to location. This means that your business, if it has a physical location, needs to be listed in Google Places and needs to be easy found when searched for from a few blocks away.

This change in weight is good for small businesses because it means you can more easily compete with larger companies that have more money to toss into their search engine optimization (SEO). It begins to bring search back to a place where real world location is relevant.

97% Market Share

With Google owning 97% of the mobile search pie and that pie growing at a rate that will overtake non-mobile searching if you’re a business owner who has limited dollars to spend on SEO then you might want to focus on your search ranking in Google over Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines. I’m not suggesting that you ignore them – anything but. However if your business is one that will benefit from a high placement in mobile search results for a particular keyword then your focus should be on getting there.

Keywords are King

As the NYT article reports – Google assumed that users would use their voice search conversationally – they would speak to the phone like they would another person. When they analyzed the data what they found was that their assumption was wrong. Google had trained users to think in keywords when searching. This means that that mobile searchers tend to be more savvy which makes total sense as those that are reluctant to use non-mobile searching in this way are probably not rushing out to buy iPhones and Droids.

Heavy smart phone users are generally more comfortable with technology. That is the folks that are comfortable using their smart phone are more likely to understand computers, to understand how computers think, and to be able to interact with them. This is a good thing for your business because smart phone users still tend to be wealthier than traditional mobile phone users. The demographics are changing every day and there are patterns emerging that show some growth in users that opt for a smart phone over a computer.

Google Analytics

Like any other visitor to your website mobile users will show up in your analytics data. You can see how many people come to your site on an iPhone. Google Analytics offers limited insight into mobile. They tell you how many mobile hits for each device and what carrier they came from. What you can’t see in Google Analytics just yet is mobile vs. non-mobile searches. You can create custom reports but as of yet I’m not sure how to add a custom report for mobile because the results. If you know of any analytics packages that offer mobile vs. non-mobile search sources please add them to the comment section.

Know Your Visitor

When you look at your analytics reports you can see you’ve got visitors using this browser or that browser. You can see their connection speed and so on. All of this can help you build an idea of the people looking on your site. If their demographics done add up to the demographics that you see as customers or wish to see as customers then you’re probably not targeting your search marketing correctly (assuming that most of them came to your site via a search engine).

If you’re seeing a lot of visits from iPhones, from Android phones, or other smart phones then you can build a picture of that website visitor based on existing demographic information that exists for those phone users.

Capturing Mobile Searchers

Even if mobile searches are still only a fraction of non-mobile searches now it’s important to pay attention to the people conducting these searches are they are more likely to turn into customers faster – they are likely out of the house, running errands, and looking for what they are searching for in order to make purchase.

What are you doing that is working to snare mobile searchers and to turn those searches into paying customers?