by Talal “Trip” Albagdadi

 

I used to travel quite a bit for work and my eastbound flights always had me arriving around dinner time.  Being hungry in a strange city can be daunting especially if you are trying to avoid fast food and chain restaurants.  Upon arrival at the hotel I would always pull out my phone and perform a local search with my GPS enabled.  After a few minutes of geographic investigation and Yelp research I’d walk or take a cab to a local restaurant.  The results of my mobile search were usually quite delicious.

mobile searches increase

Mobile Search Yields Ribs

According to Tech Crunch Magazine the number of searches made on smart phones and tablets will double from 10% of all searches in 2011 to 20% in 2012.  Digital Buzz estimates that Americans spend an average of 2.7 hours per day on their mobile devices.  We also tend to utilize multiple screens and watching TV while playing Words with Friends is now commonplace.  By 2014 Mobile Internet usage will overtake desktop usage.  This trend is extremely important for all businesses but especially small businesses.  Over 50% percent of mobile searches are local and related to a specific mission.  Finding local restaurants, bars or coffee shops are common mission related searches.

If your business Web presence is not optimized for local or mobile based searches you are missing out on a valuable opportunity.  This doesn’t mean you’ll have to develop an iPhone or Android application just for your small business.  However, it does mean that small businesses need to take mobile into consideration when building an online space.  Here are a few technical items to consider when optimizing for tablets and smart phones:

  1. Avoid Flash, Java and Frames as these are not fully supported
  2. Use CSS and HTML 5 as they will provide flexibility
  3. Consider creating a separate Mobile version of your Web site
  4. Don’t forget portrait and landscape viewing angles on phones
  5. Utilize existing platforms such as Yelp, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter

If you can’t afford to update your business Web site to HTML 5 and CSS simply focus on the existing platforms out there.  All the major social networking engines offer tablet and smart phone editions of their services.  Yelp, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter have free mobile versions of their applications that are well optimized for the small screen.  This is an economical way to take full advantage of smart phone and tablet based searches without a significant investment other than the time it takes to create each account.

Local Searches

Smart Phone Searches Increase

It should also be noted that 29% of all mobile searches are related to food or entertainment and 16% are related to auto repair or auto accessories.  If you are in either of these spaces mobile searches are extremely important in helping to drive traffic your to brick-and-mortar locations.  Local services such as contractors, dentists, plumbers, realtors and gardeners are also high on the mobile search list.

Although I no longer travel for work I have extremely fond memories of Jack’s Bar-B-Que in Nashville, Yia Yia’s Pizza in Lincoln and El Puerto Restaurant & Grill in Tampa.  I would not have found a single one of these places without a mobile search on my smart phone.  Mobile devices are changing the way the world works and the world is now moving at the speed of our fingertips.

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