Mobile Search: 4 Ways it is Different

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I’ve spoken about mobile marketing several times in the last two months and spoken with a lot of mobile marketers. And one of the biggest topics of concern among mobile marketers is mobile search.

Depending on the source, mobile search will surpass desktop search by the end of 2013 or midway through 2014. To put it another way: in just a few months your company will more likely be found on a mobile device than on a desktop or laptop. (And lest you think mobile search is only a B2C concern, we’ve noticed massive mobile traffic increases at LogMyCalls in just the last  3 or 4 months. The wave is starting to hit).

This has massive implications for any marketer. It means we need to understand mobile search and get ready right now. Period.  

We’re going to get into some specifics about how to optimize mobile SEO and mobile PPC in a future article. In this article our goal is to reveal some data about mobile search and frame the discussion for mobile search moving forward.

4 Ways Mobile Search is Different

There are many, many ways mobile search is different, but there are the 4 biggest and most critical ways.

1).  Mobile searchers are ready to buy

There is both anecdotal and quantitative evidence supporting this claim. First, Google says that 90% of mobile searches result in action in one day. Another statistics—in one of the most oft quoted in the mobile marketing world—says that 70% of mobile searches result in action within one hour. Even if those statistics are slightly exaggerated (which we have no reason to believe they are), they are still stunning.

Mobile searchers enter the funnel ready to buy. They have done research by the time they conduct a mobile search. They are ready to buy immediately.

2). Mobile searches produce a disproportionate number of phone calls

xAd and Google have been reporting for at least a year that mobile searches produce phone calls over 50% of the time. That’s stunning. But then a report from Nielsen dropped a bomb on the entire mobile marketing world when they said this: 73% of mobile users say they regularly look up and call business phone numbers.

Mobile searches produce phone calls at a staggering rate. This has broad implications about the tactics mobile marketers use and the metrics they use. It also means that Google is going to make a boatload of cash from their already burgeoning pay-per-call (click-to-call) market. We’ve

3). Mobile SEO is harder

Google said in November of 2011 that CTR falls off almost 90% from position 1 to position 4 in the mobile space. That is much higher than ‘standard’ SEO. The reason mobile SEO is more difficult is not hard to figure out. The screen is smaller and there is less room for results.

4). Mobile search will continue to grow

As smartphone penetration crests 55% later this year, mobile search is only going to increase. When, precisely, it passes desktop search is not known. But it will be soon—likely in 2013 or 2014.

And eventually—whether it is in 2015, 2016 or beyond—mobile search will own 70% to 80% of the search market. Eventually desktop SEO will become an afterthought entirely. The preeminence of mobile search changes the way marketers build websites, landing pages, track analytics and even optimize their content.

You had better start figuring out mobile search right now.

Jason Wells
Jason Wells is the CEO of ContactPoint. Their new product, LogMyCalls, represents the next generation of intelligent call tracking and marketing automation. Prior to joining... Read Full Bio
Jason Wells

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  • Jason J. Zotara

    Great article. Just wanted to add that studies also show mobile search spikes at night and on the weekends. Good to know so you can allocate the appropriate ad budget for mobile vs desktop.

  • Grieg

    great post, nice step by step explanations, thanks for the tips!

  • Richard

    Great article Jason, thanks for that. Mobile search really is an issue and all of marketers should consider that. Or at least take it into account when developing their marketing strategies. If all of the numbers that you stated are true, we should really focus on optimizing our websites for mobile devices and focus our marketing strategies on mobile devices as well.

  • Joan – BlogBizBuzz

    Great article Jason,

    Mobile is here to stay, how to manage a mobile site is going to grow. My feeling is when a person searches, yes they are ready to purchase something. The purchase may be services to tools makes no difference, but location and good SEO for the search engines to find you is imperative.

    You have some excellent points to remember in this article. Statistics from country to country will vary, each culture (except in metropolitan areas) will have a different reason for research via a phone (just ‘my feel’ on what happens locally).

  • Gary

    I agree with your assessment about the future of mobile and it’s prevalence when it comes to SEO and user behavior. I also agree that companies should do everything in their power to make the transition to a mobile marketing architecture. I am hesitant, however, to fully embrace your outlook of 2016 and beyond. Yes, mobile may own 80% of the search market by then, but it will reach a ceiling eventually. Users can only tolerate a small screen for so long and with the oncoming wave of both OTT technology for television and virtual reality in eye wear, that small screen will soon expand once again to a size even greater than a laptop screen; perhaps even greater than the visual senses altogether. Sound, touch, and human movement will all be factors. Then we can get ready for the even greater wave!