How to master local search in a mobile-first world

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We now live in a mobile-first world

The digital landscape has changed and we now live in a mobile-first world. According to Zenith 2016, mobile traffic drove 75% of global internet usage in 2017 and this will grow to 80% by 2018. It’s not just videos and social media either; 60% of all search queries now take place on mobile devices.

As mobile usage has increased, so too have consumer expectations. Consumers care about relevance, context, speed, personalisation and convenience. They want messages that cut through the clutter and give them the information they need.

Mobile is key to delivering on these expectations. Here’s what you need to know to master local search in a mobile-first world.

Understanding the fragmented media landscape

On average, consumers use between three and 10 sources along the journey to conversion. From search, maps, email and social media to review sites and external blogs – customers know what they want, and they will research the hell out of it to help inform their buying process.

Mobile is a key driver of this change. Whether it’s checking to see if a certain item is in stock at their local store or consulting reviews on their phone before making a desktop purchase, users have fully embraced mobile as a way to connect their fragmented media landscape. Carrying a phone in their pocket means they can be active whenever and wherever they want.

Google’s local pack dominates the search engine results pages (SERPs); four out of five consumers want search ads customised to their city or even their postcode –and mobile is a key tool used when deciding whether a trip to the local shop is worth it or not. Also, ‘near me’ searches have increased by 40% over the last two years as Google now treats almost all searches as local, which inherently, mobile is.

Notice a trend here? The only way to get significant exposure on mobile has to be on location. Local is the key to mastering mobile.

How do you master mobile?

Embrace the way your customers find you

Get on your mobile and experience how customers interact with your site on a mobile. More importantly, how do they find out about your location on your site via a mobile device.

Take advantage of the new and unique opportunities that mobile presents. Local inventory ads, for example, show users where they can find local product in stock – without having to travel all the way to the store to check, only to be disappointed if the item isn’t there.

It’s also important to optimise your onsite experience for local.

Strive for accuracy – this builds trust

Accuracy, consistency, and completeness are all vital when building trust. This becomes even more critical on mobile. We’ve seen some scathing customer reviews for clients where their customers have driven to stores which are closed as their Google Map data was out of date. 67% of consumers say they lose interest in a brand if inaccurate location information is provided online.

Finally, don’t neglect the completeness of your data. Opening hours and location addresses are one thing, but what about photos, events and special notices?

Leverage the reach of local

Local optimisation doesn’t end with adding a store page for each location. Leverage this reach by creating authentic local content for each location, working with your store managers to solicit positive reviews, and offering unique promos based on local events.

Adopt a multi-network approach

Your website isn’t the only place to engage with users. Customers engage with your digital storefront across external mobile channels 10 times more than on your own website. Native apps, such as Facebook and Snapchat, can all be personalised and targeted to your customer audience segments. Your audience is there, so don’t neglect them.

Optimise for local searches

Your local efforts on mobile shouldn’t sit in a silo from the rest of your digital strategy. Integrate it with your SEO research to optimise for local searches. If ‘gyms in south London’ receives a higher search volume than ‘fitness centres in south London’, for example, tailor your local content and data toward the former search term.

Turning this into an actionable strategy

Mobile allows you to embrace the way your customers find and interact with you, so give them the experience they’re looking for. Strive for accurate listings with rich information, leverage the reach of social opportunities, expand your activity beyond your owned channels (this is key), and optimise content for local search opportunities.

Emma Lauchlan is director of client strategy at DAC UK.

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