In light of the fact that mobile search volume has more than doubled on the year, Dr Dave Chaffey gives some pointers on how you can approach a mobile strategy and target those looking for local services.

The increased popularity of smartphones and mobile apps was one of the defining features of 2010 for Internet marketers. The increased usage of mobile devices suitable for search led to an increased use of mobile for searching.

Within Google the volume of mobile searches increased by 130% year-on-year (in Quarter 3). Looking further ahead, research by Cisco predicts that Global mobile data traffic will increase 26-fold between 2010 and 2015.

So every marketer should be asking about the relevance of mobile search for their markets and which steps are needed to take advantage of these trends.

Recent developments in analytics tools can help you work out the relevance of mobile search for you. Here are the steps I suggest you take to review the relevance of mobile search for your organisation:

Step 1. Review current usage of your web sites by mobile devices.

Google Analytics enables you to review the current number of visitors to your web sites through mobile devices broken down by platforms such as iPad, iPhone, Blackberry and Android. Mobile device usage of your site is within the Visitors section of the reports.

If you find that the percentage of visitors has crept over 5% as it has for some companies, then it’s certainly time to formulate a plan. If not, it’s likely there are other priorities for you. Although it may be that mobile search is important, but you have poor visibility. The next steps will help you decide the future potential.

Step 2. Analyse the volume of mobile search demand for your products or services.

Early in 2011 Google introduced information on mobile search volumes by device for certain keyphrases in its Keyword Tool.

So you can use this tool to assess the number of searches occurring for your target keyphrases on mobile and compare this to the actual number of visitors.

Step 3. Assess the relevance of mobile + local search for your customers.

If you offer local services by stores or other outlets, using the same tool I described in Step 2, you can now also see how many people are searching for services within a town or City using their mobile phone. I was surprised to see that for some phrases related to London, over 20% searches were from mobile devices.

Mobile Device Searches on London Related Phrases
Mobile Device Searches on London Related Phrases

Within Google, Google Places has become a lot more important for local searches involving the name of a location plus a service. If you see the tell-tale red balloons dominating the search results for searches related to your services in an area, that’s a sure sign you need to take action.

Step 4. Review your current visibility for mobile searches

Once you know the volume of relevant phrases for your market you can complete a gap analysis to see how visible you are for your phrases and giving you an idea of the opportunity.

I have explained the approach to a gap analysis on my previous post on this blog.

Step 5. Implement a mobile search strategy

The final stage once you have mined the insights on your current performance and future potential is to implement your mobile search strategy. Google does have a separate robot “Googlebot-Mobile” which crawls mobile sites and it is possible to direct this crawler to specific mobile content you have developed.

However, since Smartphones are the main way mobile sites are accessed these tend to show very similar results to the standard Google results. There is so little mobile specific content that Google has to feature the results from the regular search to give the most relevant results.

You can see what I mean by accessing the mobile version of Google search from your desktop.

So for me, the largest part of your mobile search strategy after you have done the analysis is to make sure your website renders well and gives a good experience in the main phone types your users are accessing!

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About the author:

An acknowledged expert on digital marketing, Dave was recognised in 2004 by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as one of “50 marketing ‘gurus’ worldwide who have shaped the future of Marketing“. Dave is also author of five best-selling books including Internet Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice; and eMarketing eXcellence.