A new study provides more evidence of the growth of mobile, with the use of search on mobiles growing by 247% over the last 12 months. In the same period, desktop search fell by 15%. 

The Tamar Mobile White Paper shows a rapid increase in mobile search use, especially among the 18-24 and 25-34 age groups with 14% of both searching on mobile every day. Last year the figures for the same groups were 5% and 8%. 

The stats from the study show an overall increase in search usage, but the growth of mobile search shows how rapidly mobile internet adoption is growing: 

Mobile search 1

While mobile search is still relatively small, at 3% of total search traffic, the data shows how rapidly it is growing. 

So what can marketers do to make the most of mobile search? 

  • Take note of Google changes. For example, the introduction of Google Instant on a mobile could have a significant impact. It could be very useful for mobile users since fewer keystrokes would be required, and marketers would need to target 'early words' in search terms
  • Since many mobile searches are likely to revolve around local specific phrases, marketers need to incorporate this into keyword research and SEO strategies. 
  • Make sure you have mobile optimised landing pages. The hard work on attracting mobile search traffic will be wasted if you send users to a desktop site which provides mobile users with a poor experience. These pages should also be optimised for a range of mobile devices. 
  • Add a phone number to PPC ads, and prominent numbers on landing pages. This way mobile users can easily make contact for bookings etc. A freephone number would also help. 
  • Add prominent store locators / directions to local businesses. Multichannel retailers can drive customers into local stores by making it easy to find the nearest outlet. 
  • Separate mobile and desktop search campaigns. The data learned from desktop search campaigns will not necessarily transfer to mobile search, so campaigns need to be tailored to mobile users.
  • Target local searchers with mobile AdWords. Restaurants and other local businesses can pick a location and target a radius around it to take advantage of local searches. 
  • Retailers need to follow mobile commerce best practice, including simplified navigation, nice big call to action buttons and, crucially, a checkout that has been optimised for mobile users. 

Tamar's Mobile White Paper can be downloaded from the company's website. 

Graham Charlton

Published 8 October, 2010 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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Comments (3)


Niranjan Sridharan

Hi Graham, Very interesting article. Even we have noticed this trend of searches using mobile devices. I agree with most of your arguments. But, with point 3, with ever increasing smart phones , we have noticed people accessing "non-mobile" sites. So do you think re-directing people to mobile sites based on their useragent (perhaps) would be such a good idea? Cheers, NJ

almost 8 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

I think that the answer may depend on the type of site / business. Some desktop sites can be reasonably usable on smartphones, but I would think it's generally best to optimise for mobiles, especially if you want people to take an action like a purchase or reservation. 

You could always direct users to the mobile site but provide a clear link to the main version for those that prefer it. 

almost 8 years ago

Nico Koepke

Nico Koepke, CEO at KODIME LtdSmall Business

Great article, and powerful stats. A big challenge, as a decent mobile site needs to be separate in form and content for most websites. The resulting change of content impacts SEO tactics, many keywords will disappear from the mobile pages, as will deep-links. There is still a trend whereby web agencies/designers show clients their shiny new website on an iPhone, maybe with some limited customisation, and say "don't worry, it works". The reality across thousands of different handsets and mobile user behaviour is very different. Ever tried filling out a form even on a decent smartphone, for example? Or scroll alomg a vertically reformatted text column to find a specific article? Or vice versa, try to find friends "near me" from a website? We're at the start of period of divergence between mobile Web and desktop Web. Search will be vital for mobile success, what works will be determined by trial & error for the time being. And how Google et all will implement the PPC model on small screen remains to be seen. When on Mobile only 3 results and 1 ad can be shown "above the fold", what does that mean not only for mob site owners, but for their business model? Niranjan, re site re-direct > yes!

almost 8 years ago

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