Getting the most out of local data can be tricksy when you’re uncertain about the search. So we’re looking at the Mobile Time-Killer search pattern for more insight.


Local SERP tracking without a strategy is like showing up to a Medieval jousting tournament without a horse — it’s just not a good idea.

Thankfully, as you may recall, we rounded up seven trusty steed-like strategies to help you rise through the Google ranks in our guide, Strategies for local SERP tracking.

Getting into the mind of your target, i.e. the searcher, and carefully studying their behaviour is the best way to craft a winning strategy. This is why our seven tracking strategies match the way in which most local searches are performed.

THE MOBILE TIME-KILLER

In the first part of this series, we tackled the Armchair Researcher pattern; now, we’re taking a good, hard look at the Mobile Time-Killer.

Similar to before, we’ll break down exactly what this pattern is made of, how it’s performed, how you can uncover its deeper motivations, and which industries benefit from tracking it.

The Mobile Time-Killer pattern is differentiated by three particular factors: a mobile phone, geo-location, and low local intent.

Search scenario

When it comes to the situation this local search is performed in, unlike our Armchair Researcher who is likely to be chillin’ out maxin’ relaxin’ all cool at home, the Mobile Time-Killer is a little harder to pin down given the mobile nature of its search. In other words, this pattern user could be at home or they could be at the bank, wasting time in the waiting line — we can’t know for certain.

We do know, however, that this search is performed on a mobile device and behaviour tends to differ across device type. As a result, the Mobile Time-Killer is less likely to be performing heavy research, instead opting for light browsing and quick searches in their local area.

Since mobile devices and desktop computers don’t generate the same SERPs, it’s an important tracking distinction to make.

Local search factors for the Mobile Time Killer
Local search factors for the Mobile Time Killer

The making of the Mobile Time-Killer

These factors define the Mobile Time-Killer search pattern.

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Geo-location and low local intent

As we discussed in the last post, the level of local intent signalled by a search can vary as much as the settings on a microwave. And again, we define local intent by how likely a search is to result in an in-person jaunt by the searcher.

When a geo-modified search is performed on a device with location services enabled, we can reasonably say that the local intent signal is high. We assume that because the searcher has made a point to ensure local results, they’re probably going to be gracing that locale with their presence.

In the case of the Mobile Time-Killer pattern — a geo-located search that doesn’t give us the added benefit of geo-modification — we read the intent signal as low since the user hasn’t made the effort to explicitly declare a location. There is nothing glaringly obvious in the query that indicates a visit by the searcher is in order.

But here’s where things get a bit squiggly: just because a query outwardly signals low local intent doesn’t necessarily mean that the searcher’s actual intent to visit in person is, in fact, low.

It should come as no surprise that we can’t rely on just one factor to determine this — we need to get creative.

The mobile factor

While the local intent waters are muddier when no geo-modification is present, research reported by Search Engine Land tells us a few things about the influence of mobile devices that can help make things clearer:

“Nearly 80 percent of local searches on mobile devices turned into purchases, with nearly 90 percent of those purchases being in a physical store (73 percent) […]. Roughly three-fourths (76 percent) of those purchases happened the same day and most (63 percent) within a few hours.”

The above stats show two different kinds of search intent in action — local and transactional. That they happen to be different doesn’t stop them from walking, hand-in-hand, off into the sunset together, since more than one search intent can be in play for a query.

We don’t know how the conversion from search to purchase was measured and the stats do seem a little high, but there’s no denying that mobile queries are often highly motivated to convert. Sometimes you just gotta go to there to get the thing.

Tina Fey from 30 Rock "I want to go to there" GIF
Tina Fey from 30 Rock "I want to go to there" GIF

Local intent in action

According to research, 73 percent of mobile searches result in both an in-person visit and a transaction.

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So, when faced with a low local intent signal, how can you understand the intent behind the Mobile Time-Killer pattern?

The case for long-tail keywords

Since mobile searches are actually quite likely to result in an excursion, building out a tracking strategy with long-tail keywords is essential. The more specific a query becomes, the more some kind of search intent can be inferred.

For example, as a brick-and-mortar shoe store, a search for [brown suede heeled ankle boots size 8] is more likely to result in a visit (and if the shoe fits, a purchase) than a search for [boots]. One searcher appears to be browsing for inspiration, the other with intent to own.

Keeping a watchful eye on the rank and search volume of your long-tail keywords will help you understand and target higher quality leads in your local area.

If you’re an online-only magazine with a focus on home renovation, by putting together relevant lists of long-tail keywords (for example, [affordable window treatments], [best new siding products 2016]) and tracking them in the major cities of your national markets, you can see where you’re getting squeezed out by local retailer organic results.

From there, you can start building out locally relevant content designed to improve your visibility on those searches.

Who should track this pattern?

The obvious answer here is everyone. Mobile SERP tracking should be in every SEO’s wheelhouse and geo-location is becoming the new norm. But, outside of brick-and-mortar businesses, there are a few industries that benefit from paying extra special attention to it.

The Mobile Time-Killer pattern — a mobile device returning geo-located search information — should also be important to verticals that are only loosely tied to location, such as insurance, online marketplaces, social media, and digital goods. You can only navigate your tracking strategy properly when you know which locally-focussed results Google keeps putting in your way.

For example, if you’re the online magazine mentioned above and operate largely on advertising revenue, getting the attention of the Mobile Time-Killer pattern is a challenge. With geo-location at the helm, Google prioritizes local results (maps, snack packs), which frequently crowd online-only businesses out of top SERP results. In other words, the competition with local retail is fierce.

But wait! There’s more!

If you’re itchin’ to know more about the other six search patterns and delve even deeper into the interplay of local and mobile, download the full STAT Guide: Strategies for local SERP tracking.

STAT guide(PDF)

Also keep an eye out for insight into our third local search pattern: the “I want it now.”

Want to see how STAT works with mobile SERPs? Say hello and request a demo!