"… it's really not a matter IF the mobile phone will become the dominant internet platform any more but WHEN…" – Yahoo! analyst Russell Beattie
With 15 percent of U.S. mobile subscribers accessing news and information via the mobile browser, mobile search represents a huge growth opportunity for SEOs. The Kelsey Group recently revealed that nearly half of mobile users will be looking for a mobile phone with better Internet capability when they make their next mobile phone purchase.
Demand is growing and additional options have become available for consumers to follow their favorite sports team, find a restaurant, look up a local movie listing or get directions to a retailer on the go. The options for local mobile content range from calling free directory assistance, texting a local search resource or using a downloadable local search application.
I came across two interesting studies on local search today. Local Search Guide, created by The Yellow Pages Association (YPA) and Search Engine Whos Who, surveyed their visitors on their primary Local Mobile tool usage.
Results of Local Mobile tool usage includes:
66 percent are using mobile phones to search for local business listings.
37 percent use free directory assistance
17 percent most often use SMS/text messaging
12 percent say they use downloadable mobile search applications to find local information
34 percent report not using mobile search because the experience is frustrating
A new TMP ComScore study found that search happens at the end of the buying cycle after consumers have figured out what they want to buy and move on to where they want to buy it. Key considerations in the local search process include price promotions, sales, coupons and financing options. Not surprising, how quickly they can get to the business also matters to consumers.
According to Stuart McKelvey of TMP, brand awareness "greatly influences" where consumers search. Only in the absence of brand awareness does proximity become the major driving force for consumers in their purchase decision.
This year, ABI Research says 115 million smartphones will be shipped, and that number will rise to 410 million by 2012. Moving forward, there are several challenges ahead as Web-based search migrates to the world of mobile devises. Part of the problem lies within the device landscape, it's challenging to create a desktop experience on a 2.5-inch screen, and then theres the fact internet access rates are costly.
Users know what they want, expect it fast and inexpensive. As the technology and infrastructure catches up, I expect that Optimizing for the mobile browser will be all the buzz by 2010!
Lastly, if you're looking for Mobile Search Site Creation and Optimization tips, be sure to check out Ross Dunns post. It offers a great synopsis.