Google Research Outlines How Local Searchers Use Mobile

Local SEO has been a constantly evolving entity, much like most technological advances in the modern era. Now, it's not nearly enough for local search marketers to plan for desktop searches, they also have to strategize for mobile. But problems arise when businesses conflate their desktop and mobile strategies, taking a one-size-fits-all approach to SEO. Considering mobile searching also carries a stronger local intent than desktop, businesses may be unintentionally hampering their SEO efforts by not understanding the necessity for a distinct mobile plan.

In fact, one of Google's best practices is separating PC and mobile campaigns. Yet research from an SEO review firm found that just 5 percent of local search marketers it reviews adhere to Google's advice and maintain separate campaigns.

To help local businesses understand how mobile search differs from desktop search, Google conducted a study on the most common ways users search on mobile and the most effective methods local SEO specialists can use to plan for it.

The first thing to understand about mobile is that a bad mobile page can negatively impact a business in ways that might not be recoverable. Fifty-five percent of respondents who conduct mobile searches said a frustrating experience on a mobile page would hurt their perception of the company and the brand. Seventy-four percent of respondents also said they are more likely to revisit mobile-friendly sites.

Searching for a location or hours of service was a top intent for mobile searchers, as 76 percent of respondents called it their primary use when searching. Sixty-one percent most often used mobile for click-to-call, 54 percent sent an email to a business, 53 percent downloaded an app from a business, 48 percent went to a social media page and 41 percent played videos. The results - particularly regarding click-to-call and app downloading - demonstrate how a desktop strategy wouldn't fit with a more local, mobile plan.

Google also found which specific site design aspects mobile users have come to expect. Seventy-eight percent said a prominent search bar on the mobile page was important. Click-to-call also showed up big in responses, and 66 percent said it was a critical to mobile site design. Again underscoring the need for separate mobile sites, 74 percent said an option to go to a full non-mobile site was important to site layout and 64 percent said one direction scrolling (up/down or left/right) was just as critical.