HOW BUSINESSES CAN INCREASE SALES WITH LOCAL AND MOBILE

The time for businesses to jump onto the mobile search bandwagon is now. Waiting, even just a few short months, will put businesses at a disadvantage that will impact future sales. Mobile use, especially when it comes to local search, is growing at an increasing pace that will force marketers to adapt and optimize in the near future.

According to a new study from Nielson, Americans spend more than 40 hours every month surfing the web, watching videos or using apps. That’s more time than they spend using any other media device, including gaming systems and desktop computers, except for live television. A study from InMobi shows that outside of the U.S. and the U.K., mobile media is even more prominent than television.

The reason smartphone market penetration and mobile use is important to businesses is because of the expansive use of local search. Local search creates moment of interest connections between searchers looking for specific products or services nearby and local businesses. Overwhelmingly, those local searchers, both on mobile devices and at home, buy something from a business they found online.

Local SEO, which optimizes local search results, puts businesses in front of local consumers with the greatest possible visibility. In essence, local search helps businesses drive live foot traffic and sales by creating a digital presence that can be easily found by local searchers looking to make a purchase.

Local search via smartphones are about to outnumber local searches on desktop devices. According to research from BIA Kelsey, mobile local search volume is on pace to intersect desktop local searches in 2015, and exceed desktop searches in 2016. One important note to remember, this projection includes both web and in-app searches.

The research assumes the number of mobile searchers per smartphone user will grow from 14 a month to 42. It’s also based on the number of mobile search users growing from 44 percent today (about 118 million smartphone users), to 75 percent (225 million users) by 2016. This is a massive amount of mobile searchers and opportunities for businesses to create moment of interest connections with local customers.

How Businesses Can Build a Presence Using Local SEO

The advent of local search opens new opportunities for businesses to create visibility with the potential consumers that surround them on a daily basis. To create that visibility, businesses must first focus on creating a digital presence using local optimization techniques. Then, a business can tailor its digital offerings toward mobile users. By optimizing mobile offerings with content that is geared toward the usage patterns of these local searchers on the go, businesses can create greater visibility for themselves. As the number of local searchers on smartphones continues to grow, this visibility now will create exponentially higher dividends in the future.

The first thing businesses need to do to create a local digital impression is claim search engine listings and upload location data to online directories.

The three biggest search engines, Google, Yahoo! and Bing, all have their own, unique local listing opportunity for businesses. Claiming a listing on each of these sites can improve local visibility for businesses when users conduct local searches.

Online directories are important because each directory is a mention of a business, and the more mentions each specific location has, the more credibility it is given by search engines. Large data aggregators like Infogroup and Localeze will populate popular and niche directories like Citysearch and Tripadvisor. Additionally, the search engines look to these data aggregators as an influence on their own local results.

For both search engine listings and online directories it is important for businesses to complete all of the available fields with the most detailed information possible and keep that information both accurate and consistent across every platform. Small changes in addresses, phone numbers, hours of operation or anything else will cause search engines to question the accuracy of the information and potentially cause the results not to show in searches.

There are also on-site efforts businesses can take when attempting to create a greater local impression. The most common mistake businesses make is not having a separate web page for each location. Search engine crawlers see local information on individual landing pages differently than if the information is stored on a single page or in a mapping program. When spread out, search engines consider the local information to have more credibility and authority, therefore giving it more prominence in search results.

How to Optimize Digital Content for Mobile Users

Optimization for mobile includes adjustments in strategy, design and content. Mobile users, with smaller screens and no keyboards, have different needs and abilities than desktop searchers, so businesses must adjust to them instead of expecting searchers to change their habits.

Mobile strategy includes creating a unique mobile keyword strategy. Mobile searchers use different keywords when on their mobile devices compared to when they’re at home. The reason? Because they have different need, they’re searching on a smaller screen and because they don’t have a keyboard. To find the keywords that work for a specific business, marketers need to think like consumers and use the analytics already at their disposal, which may have the ability to break down what search terms mobile users use to find a specific site.

One way businesses can adapt their digital offerings for mobile devices is by updating their website to an adaptive design. Adaptive websites automatically adjust based on a user’s screen. 72 percent of consumers expect brands to have mobile-friendly sites. As new devices sizes are unveiled and tablet popularity increases, this will hold true for all screen sizes. Look into responsive design today to begin optimizing your multi-screen digital presence.

Consumers desire different content when on the go compared to when they’re at home. Businesses should focus on what their local consumers want, and create mobile content that caters to them, which may include easy to use location finders, searchable product information, consumer reviews or simple basic information about hours of operation and pricing. The key is to provide what consumers demand.

Together, adjustments in strategy, design and content will create a richer and more valuable experience for mobile users. Search engines recognize this, and give prominence to businesses that optimize for mobile over businesses that done.

Conclusion

In less than two years, local searches and mobile devices are expected to outnumber local searches on desktop devices. Local searches, specifically those using a mobile device, convert into in-store sales at a high rate. Therefore, businesses should be actively working to gain visibility with these local searchers on mobile devices. To do that, businesses must optimize for both mobile and local SEO. Businesses that neglect either mobile or local, or both, will be at a disadvantage compared to competitors that are already optimizing their mobile offerings.

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