Mobile Search is an ever growing part of the larger search market. Last year, according to ComScore, more then 20 million people searched from a mobile device in the USA alone. That’s an increase of 68% from the year previous. This is a fraction of all cell phones in the United States, and as wireless internet speeds and smart handset penetration increase, so will the number of users using search from a Mobile device.
Marketshare wise, Google controls about 65% percent of the market, with Yahoo! picking up the rest of the slack. Similar to regular search, Microsoft Live is still barely a blip on the radar.
In this Video from SES 2008, Google’s Matt Cutts talk about how there are 1.25 billion computers in the world, and over 3 billion mobile handsets, and the opportunities this presents:
How is Mobile Search Different?
Mobile Searchers are in a different search cycle then regular searches – they’re looking for something in the here and now. The majority aren’t searching for Credit Cards or news on your latest widget – they need to know where there’s a pizza place nearby, where the nearest bank is, and other useful information. Because of it’s medium, much of Mobile Search is centered around local search.
When using a cell phone that does not have a full fledged browser, the interface for mobile search , and therefore the results, change dramatically. Yahoo’s One Search , Google’s Mobile Search and Microsoft Live Mobile will place an emphasis on local results where it makes sense. In all of the engines, regardless of the query, less emphasis is placed on actual search results from the web and more on results that will help the user – local establishments, sports scores, etc:
MSN Mobile Search for Pizza
Google Mobile Results for Pizza
Yahoo Mobile Results for Pizza
The Google Interface for the iPhone is different and reflects a more traditional Google look, designed to fit in the iPhone:
Optimizing for Mobile Search
As seen above, Mobile Search results tend to reflect Local Search results. If you want to show up on the first screen when a user searches for something, you need to make sure that your site is also optimized for local type searches. Some ways you can do this:
Make sure your site is verified and included in sites like Google’s Local Business Center. Make the extra effort and verify your listings with a PIN received by email or by phone – the more verification and trust you give to the engines, the higher your local ranking will be.
Instead of links, you’ll need to look for citations that mention your business, its website and its address. What are citations? Citations are anything that tend to reference your business, so a yellow pages directory, a web site that lists your contact information, and even the Better Business Bureau all server as citations. Citations can be gotten by submitting your business info to local directories, getting mentioned in local news with your address, and even being reviewed on sites like Yelp.com can count as a citation!
For each location, try and create a separate page with your business information, include local address and telephone number.
Try and get local links from sources such as a Local Chamber of Commerce, Government Agencies and even local towns. Local links help the engines put you in the right neighberhood.
Make sure your address and phone number are at the bottom of all your pages.
Have a list of all your locations, if you have more then one, and consider adding a map indicating how to best get to your place of business.
Remember you’re building for an audience that is using a screen the size of a hand, and design accordingly.
Borrow various cell phones from others and test your site against them – it’s much better and accurate then the various simulators available online.
Advertising On Mobile Search
When does it make sense to advertise on mobile search? There are two cases, primarily – the first case where you are ROI focused, and your ad makes sense in relation to the search. For example, if you operate a pizzareia, then it makes sense to target people searching for Pizza in your area. If you’re a major brand, such as Pizza Hut, it makes sense to advertise on Pizza regardless of the location.
Yahoo! Search requires a new login and account to advertise on their mobile results. You can sign up here.
Microsoft AdCenter allows the creation of Mobile Ads from within a regular AdCenter account.
Tracking Mobile Search
Mobile Usage on your website can be tracked in a number of ways:
Basic Log File Parsing, while not fantastic, will allow you to get a basic idea of how many visitors mobile search is driving to your site.
Packet Sniffing – Services like Amethon install an extra server between your web browser and the internet, which allows them to get a copy of the packet your web server is getting and provide data based on information contained in the packet.