If we haven't made it clear before, we believe that no business can afford to ignore mobile device users. The latest statistics confirm that mobile adoption is growing fast. According to SuperMonitoring, half of all mobile device owners use their devices as their primary or only way of accessing the web. As Google points out in a recent study, going mobile is now a business imperative.
Google's research shows that people move from screen to screen to accomplish tasks and may spend much of their evenings reading, researching and updating social media on a mobile device while watching TV. But those same users may also be using their mobile devices while commuting, getting lunch and so on – the on-the-go users.
Whichever camp they fall into, mobile device owners are major users of local search, which is growing in importance. Research from YP calls local search "a near-daily ritual" for consumers, with 40% using it daily and 66% using it up to 4 times a week. And the stats show that mobile users are more likely to make quick buying decisions, especially if businesses make it easy. They tend to research information at the point of need and then act on it fast. All that adds up to the need to get local information right.
We've talked before about ways to improve the position of your business in location-based services and the importance of being listed in local directories. But let's step back for a bit and consider the groundwork you need to make your local SEO efforts count for something with mobile users.
Did you know that more than half of searchers use a city name so they can find resources that are close to them? And two thirds search for local businesses every month? To cater for these users, optimize your existing content by putting service names and locations in page titles. Include the same information plus your phone number (properly formatted with area code) in page descriptions.
Add local contact information where people are likely to look for it, like on a contact page or the footer of your site. And consider creating local landing pages for your business (responsive, of course). Providing local information is only useful if people can read it easily even on the smallest mobile device screen.
One thing you must do as a business optimizing for both local and mobile is get your Google+ Local listing which tends to show up above the fold in search results. As well as the location details, you can include images of the location, and use structured data to help search engines correctly identify your content. Next to this, the second and third most important parts are a Facebook page and a Yelp listing, though you may also want to include a listing in any local directories that relate to your business. Find out more about this in David Mihm's list of local search ranking factors.
Finally, two search trends make this local search optimization even more important. Many mobile device and desktop searches use implicit search, taking the information they have about your location (such as your IP address) to deliver location-aware results.
And then there's voice search, which has been on mobile devices for a while and has just moved to the desktop. It gives web users the option to search for information in natural language, taking away the reliance on keywords. That means businesses need to think more about the questions people ask (you may find some of these in your analytics search data) and optimize for these.
Overwhelmingly, the research shows that mobile device users not only search for local information, but act on it – your business needs to be ready.