Mobile Local Search: An Untapped Goldmine

Now that it’s clear mobile search volume has indeed surpassed desktop search, multiple recent announcements from Google and Bing underscoring their favoritism of mobile-friendly sites in mobile search results come as no surprise. Big brands and multi-location businesses that might have thought just a year ago they had time to get mobile-ready are struggling now to get it right.

Our internal survey data shows that when mobile SEO and user experience are done right, mobile search traffic surpasses the national average. In fact, many of our retailers are seeing 70 percent or more of their traffic coming from mobile, and traffic from mobile search delivering twice as much as desktop.

The time to get mobile right is now.

Optimizing Mobile for Search and UX

Optimizing mobile pages for both search and user experience gives you the best chance of garnering very low cost mobile search traffic.


How can you get started? Begin with ensuring your mobile pages are in line with these best practices:

  • Add separate meta tags to mobile pages to tell the users that your page is mobile ready.
  • Use shorter more direct titles and descriptions on mobile pages including terms that mobile users would search for.
  • Include schema markup identifying the page and its content as a local business.
  • Include mobile conversions that help the user get what they want, including contact information, driving directions, hours, neighborhoods served, embedded maps, coupons, local landmarks like shopping center or mall name, smaller optimized images that load quickly, abbreviated descriptions of services and business type, and links to mobile apps.
  • Ensure mobile recognition on desktop pages is accurate or in place, to drive mobile users to the mobile page. As an example, I recently did a search for “Walmart San Diego” and all 5 search results on mobile delivered me to desktop pages that were difficult to navigate. 
  • Use a mobile store finder software to expedite the optimization of your mobile finder for each location, ensuring each has a mobile page.

The focus can’t be only on getting your mobile site to appear in search results. What do you expect people to do once they encounter that result? Is your page set up and optimized to answer their query, deliver on their need and enable them to take action?

Always consider the user’s experience from querying, through to finding your result, and all the way through to conversion. What obstacles have been placed in their way? Get rid of them.

Budgeting Appropriately for Mobile Local Search

Consumers spend far more time in mobile than in print, yet print spend is still disproportionately high in comparison.


This points to opportunities continuing to win budget from print, TV and potentially radio, for digital and mobile.

However, spend on mobile must also align with revenue. Marketers must be able to accurately track clicks, conversions and sales as a result of mobile local search, even when those conversions occur on the phone or in-store. Having analytics to decipher mobile users is key.

Paid search offers a sure way to appear in one of the limited above-the-fold spots available on the smaller mobile screen – if you’re willing to bid high enough. You’ll have to, since CTRs on mobile drop off sharply after positions one and two, even more dramatically than on desktop. We’ve found that search engine marketing (SEM) can cost up to 90 percent more than the traffic from optimized mobile pages, listings, offers and store finders.

That’s not to pit SEM and organic search against one another – it’s true that they often work better together. But if you’re unhappy with your current returns in mobile, there may be an opportunity to tap into this goldmine that is the cheapest search traffic available on mobile.

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