Five Essentials for Mobile-Local Search

| 11/03/2011

have written about optimizing your email and website for the mobile screen with the goal to iterate that marketing must be adapted for mobile. Because mobile and online marketing are not tantamount, it’s not OK to sit on your hands and assume your current efforts will perform properly in the mobile arena. Testing and revising should be recurring themes in attempting to master mobile marketing. Based on this argument, are your business listings and corresponding profile pages optimized for mobile-local search?

Unlike desktop and laptop users who tend to research online and take action later, mobile users have the “I need it now” attitude. Typically, these users are further along in the decision-making and purchase processes so they search for businesses that will satisfy their immediate purchase needs.

Mobile is a locally oriented, GPS-enabled medium offering the most customized, personal and relevant experiences. So, naturally one turns to his or her always-handy, always-connected smart phone to locate nearby businesses. As search continues to elevate the mobile marketplace, business listings, local-business profiles and landing pages will play an increasingly vital role in your mobile presence so that consumers can call, visit and buy from you.

Explore five mobile must-haves to help you update and enhance your business listings for mobile-local search in apps and the mobile Web.

Click to Call

Remember, search behaviors on mobile devices are different than on desktops and laptops. Computer users are stationary. They have more time to search, research and record business information for later use. But the average on-the-go mobile user typically needs results in a timely, hassle-free manner.

Mobile users intend to visit the banks, retailers or restaurants they are searching for when it’s on the way to where they’re going. In fact, most mobile users do visit the searched businesses within one day.

Point is? Streamline the mobile-search experience in a succinct, one-two-punch process. Avoid annoying situations of making the user have to exit a browser or app to bring up the dial pad, and don’t assume mobile users will have a pen handy to jot down your contact information. Embed a click-to-call button — a key differentiator from online advertising — on your business profile or location-based landing page. This will create a positive experience and increase the chances of mobile consumers contacting you. As we already discussed, those consumers are highly qualified leads. Plus, the click-to-call functionality, when coordinated with a unique call-tracking number, is measureable so you can determine performance and ROI.

Driving Directions

Because a majority of consumers prefer to shop locally, store visits are a natural effect of mobile-local search. And that’s a tremendous advantage for the SMB that wants to compete with the mega brand that just opened a neighborhood location. In other words, mobile-local search — if optimized correctly — gives no one a distinct advantage; it actually puts national and local advertisers on the same playing field by giving just as much importance to the corner shop as the mega brand.

With that being said, give local consumers every possible contact method. A vital component of mobile media is its ability to instantaneously sync business location with turn-by-turn navigation in apps and browser-based mapping/navigation platforms in a single click. Assuming your business data is updated, it’s a low-maintenance way of leading consumers directly to your storefront, which underscores the importance of ensuring your listings are accurate across all sites and apps so that consumers aren’t led to a wrong location.

Navigation, too, comes with tracking capabilities to report on the number of leads (i.e., the number of times directions are accessed). While most reporting software cannot determine if the directions actually result in store visits, you can further enhance your mobile presence with the social check-in functionality — an advantage of apps versus the mobile Web — which gives you some indication of who’s visiting and when. Some apps come complete with check-ins, while others can be integrated with Facebook, foursquare, etc., so you’re best served to claim your business pages on these major social properties.

Categories and Keywords

While data varies on mobile patterns and trends, let’s just assume that consumers use a maximum of 15 characters to three words when entering mobile-search queries. Using QWERTY keyboards and touchscreens makes text input rather tedious (and is oftentimes riddled with spelling errors). Search relevance and your position in search results are no longer products of scale but of variables aimed at immediacy, such as location and category suitability.

When optimizing business listings and profiles for mobile search, bear in mind that they will vary from their Internet counterparts in terms of keyword and category targets. I advise you to conduct some market research to better understand how mobile consumers are searching within your industry vertical. As a general rule, keep keyword and category targets to a minimum and tied to location as closely as possible.

Business Info

Your business information can include address, phone number, hours of operation, and even photos. Just like your category and keyword targets, make sure you’re keeping your business descriptions locally relevant and optimized. In the same breath, keep your content to a minimum to avoid zooming and scrolling because reading on the mobile screen can be terrible on the eyes.

Also, embed necessary information like ratings and reviews to enhance your business profile page to help consumers choose you. In fact, on mobile search engines, the presence of ratings and reviews pulled in from other platforms can actually boost your page ranking to prime search-results real estate.

Local Offers

Deal services like Groupon and LivingSocial have revolutionized the coupon industry. As a result of the discount-shopping surge, local offers and promotions are being featured on business profiles. Apps are equipped with check-in and daily deals. Some apps have separate categories or tabs designed so consumers can search locally by deals only, which means you can actually double your exposure since you appear in standard searches and deal searches by location. Even browser-based place pages or profiles can aggregate a local business’s offers from third-parties across the mobile web, putting them in one convenient location.

By optimizing your mobile presence with local offers, you are incentivizing your profile pages to help consumers choose you from the crowded marketplace. It’s worth mentioning that secondary-action rates for mobile are among the highest in the industry, so chances are high that your promotions will get noticed and utilized. In fact, adding such content to business profiles will help you monetize performance because you can track offer redemptions over a period of time.


Optimizing your business listings and profile pages will pay dividends if you’re willing to invest the time, energy and resources to doing it properly. Many of the tips I highlighted can be done with simplicity and in house. The danger for DIY marketers is they optimize and don’t follow up. If that describes you, consider using an agency. Local optimization is an ongoing task because your information must be constantly updated, enhanced and distributed across browsers and apps.

Originally published by iMedia Connection (October 27, 2011)