The Two Types of Mobile Searchers

  |  July 28, 2005   |  Comments

Need-it-now and killing-time mobile searchers have different habits than their tethered counterparts.

Mobile search behavior is "strikingly different" from traditional desktop search, according to a report from search engine marketing firm Oneupweb. Marketers must adjust both SEM and paid search campaigns, as well as redesign Web sites for mobile users -- or risk missing out.

In "Mobile Search and Its Implications for Search Engine Marketing," Oneupweb identifies two key demographic groups: "need-it-now shoppers" and "killing-time" mobile shoppers, both of which are already changing the marketing landscape.

"Mobile search is influencing how people search," Lisa Wehr, Oneupweb CEO told ClickZ News. "They're entering shorter search queries, there's a higher emphasis on the top few results, there's less emphasis on photos / graphics, and more influence on shorter copy."

"Need-it-now" mobile search users have an immediate need that is based on something that is happening at the moment. "Killing-time" users are doing research during downtime and are generally speaking stuck in their current location.

In Wehr's estimation, the need-it-now shoppers are spurring Google, Yahoo, MSN, A9 and others' focus on local search and mapping, the perfect conduit for need-it-nows.

"In this sense, the search engines have done a lot of the work for businesses that cater to need-it-nows by publishing their name, address, and phone numbers online," Wehr explains. "Additionally, marketers will see a faster connection between an online search and a brick-and-mortar retail sale, encouraging them to update retail locations online and make sure those updates can be indexed by the engines."

It's a bit tougher to pigeonhole killing-time searchers. Not only do they need search capabilities, they also require access to complete information that fits on a mobile screen as these searchers are likely in the research phase of their online activity.

Oneupweb suggests marketers who typically use longer keywords must evaluate shorter terms to cater to mobile users.

The paper also recommends marketers keep page title tags short and emphasize keywords at the front in order to ensure natural local search results appear on small mobile screens. Based on current market trends, mobile search strategies will have to be part of companies' marketing efforts by 2007.

"Mobile search will hit the tipping point when there's no longer a line between 'mobile Web' and the World Wide Web at large," Wehr said. "When a consumer knows that the search he does on the phone will be the same results as at home. That day is soon coming."

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