Every time “mobile friendly” websites is mentioned among local business owners, I sense a very un-friendly attitude. Or perhaps it is the look of confusion, frustration or the fear that they will have to invest in another website ! ? Hey, we get it. The website we created in the “good ‘ol days” displayed great on a desktop monitor. Then smartphones and tablets arrived and we were told we need a new and/or improved website to accommodate them. More time. More hassle. More Money!
For local businesses, maybe not. We took a critical view of our several dozen clients and asked, “Given the type of businesses these are, where would we expect users to be when they searched for them?”. In nearly every case we concluded that the home or office was the most likely location and therefore their search would most likely done on their good ol’ fashioned desktop computer.
Eschewing the present drive toward mobile devices and mobile search, our position clearly runs counter to popular opinion. After all, look at the facts.
In 2013, Neustar/Localeze published their annual “Local Search Usage Study”
conducted by comScore. In it, they reported local search was the #1 application used on mobile devices resulting in 85 million searches, a 26% increase in just the previous ten months. Wow! Those are big numbers and used by website designers to convince small businesses that they need to part with a bunch of money to meet these potential customers. Or do they?
They have just released their 2014 edition and the mobile friendly numbers continue to look impressive. 4 of 5 searches on mobile devices end in a purchase. 27% of mobile searches are to find a location. A whopping 30% of all local searches on mobile devices were for restaurants.
However, the main point that Neustar/Localeze is promoting this year is that user’s local search habits are becoming more sophisticated as they use multiple devices to search for local goods and services. They also report that 85% of local searches on Google, Bing and Yahoo originate from a desktop or laptop computer. Further, 64% of desktop/laptop users are satisfied with their user experience vs. just 50% satisfaction rate among mobile users.
Back to our clients which include dentists, accountants, plumbers, exterminators, automotive services, printers, realtors, etc. Who, we asked, is going to search for any of these services while waiting for their latte’ at Starbucks? The services these clients provide are not trivial. The search for a qualified provider requires some concentration involving comparisons between locations, online reviews, etc. There is some work involved here.
So, we conclude, that users will most likely initiate their search for these types of local services on their home or office computer. Then, when the homework is done, they use their smart phone to go “old school”. They call them.