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People are searching on mobile more than ever. As Google pushes for a richer and more dynamic mobile search experience, how can local businesses dominate the SERPs for local searches conducted on mobile devices?

 

Spend More to Get More

Mobile is the space to bid aggressively, for a few reasons. First and foremost, customers are becoming significantly more active on mobile each year. In fact, mobile Internet traffic actually exceeded desktop traffic for the first time over this past Thanksgiving weekend, solidifying mobile’s dominance in the search sector. Second, mobile screens are smaller than desktop screens. And while, yes, screen sizes are increasing, ad space is not always getting that increased space. In the end, smaller screens means decreased SERP real estate availability. Third, it is crucial to remember that local campaigns do not exist in a vacuum disparate from the effects of national competition. Just because you are running a local campaign does not mean your competition is limited to other brands’ local businesses. You are also competing against national businesses that invade local markets.

TIP – If you are going to bid and engage people aggressively, position yourself to respond to incoming inquiries aggressively as well. Spend money at the right times by scheduling your call extensions to pop up at the right times. For example, when you bid up for local relevance near brick and mortar locations, make sure you have staff onsite, ready to answer the phones and/or greet people as they walk in the door. Remember though, you can still be active in different ways at times when your call center is not open.

 

Track Call Length

What KPIs should marketers measure to appropriately gauge how their paid and earned local campaigns are faring in the mobile SERPs? The paid ads your brand is running on mobile for local searches should already use mobile-specific calls to action like “Call Now,” and your mobile ads should feature easy-to-use call extensions and location extensions.

TIP – Instead of simply tracking clicks, evaluate metrics that give some insight into the quality of action taken as a result of these ads – metrics like call length. Tracking call length offers valuable insight into A) the quality of calls your messaging is garnering, and B) how well the staff servicing your call center is complimenting your paid ads. The longer your customers are on the phone may indicate the higher the likelihood they’re on track to convert.

 

Defend your Territory

In terms of paid ads, keep bidding on your brand! When you cut out paid brand bidding, you stop defending your territory, effectively inviting competitors to rank for your terms and jeopardizing your brand’s online reputation. Balance your efforts toward garnering both brand and non-brand visibility by, if you are in an ROI model, capitalizing on low-CPA, relevant traffic. For Google, relevance is an important efficiency driver which can drive up your click-thru rate, validate your site, drive up quality score, and provide you relevant traffic with a strong ROI. In effect, this tactic is a cost-effective way to show up when people are looking for you.

TIP – Whether they be ROI or CPA, keeping in mind your key performance indicators, spend as much money for brand as possible, and then budget for non-brand. If you have budget for a non-ROI approach, one tactic might be budgeting toward exploratory traffic and learnings; a great way to find new audiences.

 

Think Physical

Local mobile SERP domination requires a sustainable long-term strategy. While time-on-site and click-through rate are indeed useful metrics that influence your site’s ability to rank organically, focusing solely on these metrics when it comes to your brand’s mobile strategy can distract you from your long-term business objective: conversions.

Figure out what the true mobile-specific conversion is for the mobile interaction you want customers to perform, either in the ad or on your site when served on a mobile device, and use your ads to drive customers toward those actions. Provide the appropriate conversion point for the experience you want. Typically, the primary objective of ads on a mobile SERP is to relay the right kind of information to searchers so that they quickly get offline and into your brand’s physical store or on the phone with a representative.

TIP – Strategize appropriately by tailoring ad copy to encourage consumers along this kind of mobile consumer decision journey toward offline conversion. Serve your most mobile-friendly pages for this journey, and take advantage of ad extensions like sitelinks to portray navigational information, phone numbers, and store hours and support your audience as they move to offline conversions.

 

Let Google Work for You

Many silly errors can occur whilst stitching together the bidding facilitation of third-party products. Avoid unnecessary errors by letting Google do the work for you. Use all of Google Adwords’ bells and whistles that go with it to consolidate your efforts in one place. Adwords has a lot of great options when it comes to call tracking and SERP domination, easy ways to make your ads stand out and they are always inventing something new that might work really well in different verticals.

 

All in all, local SERP domination on mobile requires that brands develop calculated strategies across both paid and earned SEO, carefully calibrated to address customer pain points at each stage of the conversion funnel to eventually reach that final transfer of funds for goods. By holistically leveraging both advertising arenas, you can better deliver a complete story to your consumers by appearing in multiple areas of the new local-mobile SERP, effectively strengthening trust in your products and services, and boosting loyalty to your brand as a whole.

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8 Comments
  • David Hughes
    David Hughes

    There is no question understanding the online to offline conversion paths is critical now and in the future. Thanks for the article.

    January 27, 2015 at 5:14 am Reply
    • Dale Wilson

      We completely agree David – there is far more that needs to be discussed when it comes to Local SERPs. Starting with owning them to capitalizing on traffic from the SERP to the conversion, whether it be online or in-store. This is just our first step. thanks!

      January 27, 2015 at 10:29 am Reply
  • David Lee

    Thanks for the tips and all the excellent information you provide on this post. Cheers, Dale!

    January 29, 2015 at 3:53 pm Reply
  • Michael Smith

    Yes, there is no doubt how local search is helpful to small business. I really like your post about this topic. Now it’s time to mobile world and every small business and entrepreneur have to promote their business in this era. Now, about your post, I really like first 2 topics. Because if you are scheduling something with call extensions, you have to be ready to answered the phone calls and to measure the effectiveness of that campaign, you have to measure the call length as well which will give you idea about the performance of your staff and your marketing campaign.

    February 3, 2015 at 4:28 am Reply
    • Dale Wilson

      Hi Michael – glad you got so much out of the post – there’s definitely a lot to consider. Local/mobile are SO important right now and it’s ever changing.

      February 5, 2015 at 2:32 pm Reply
  • Louisa Bainbridge

    I loved this post. I couldn’t agree more that sometimes metric analysis can get in the way of meeting objectives!

    I work at iGeolise and we are convinced that consumers need to search locally by minutes rather than miles. All of us plan travel using minutes…as we can’t do as the crow flies (YET-still waiting on my flying car). This post confirmed my thoughts.

    Do you look at any topics like this? I’d love the search agents thoughts.

    March 25, 2015 at 4:51 am Reply
    • Christina Elghazi

      Hi Louisa – glad you enjoyed the post!

      Great point about providing distance in minutes vs. miles – that would certainly make sense for mobile searches with local intent. Keep an eye out for the next iteration of this post, which will discuss strategies for dominating the local-mobile SERPs from an organic/earned perspective. I’ll also do some digging into your minutes-over-miles model and try to integrate it into my recommendations for optimizing for local search. (Hey, this could even turn into a great opportunity for us to work together on a co-authored guide to local in 2015!)

      Thanks for stopping by, Louisa!

      March 26, 2015 at 2:56 pm Reply
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