Free Downloads Top Mobile Search
Search engines are the home pages of many Internet users around the world - a gateway to the World Wide Web. In the mobile environment, search engines are a good match, catering to those who need instant information. This could be the location of a restaurant, the phone number for the nearest tailor or times for the local cinema.
The number of world-wide mobile phones users is around triple those using the Internet via a computer and the numbers that have access to the mobile Internet are constantly rising. Therefore, it is unsurprising to find search engines looking to capitalise on this growing market.
However, organisations need to take into account the different needs of mobile Internet users. According to Eitan Gelbaum, Vice President, advertising, commerce and entertainment at customer experience systems provider, Amdocs, the mobile Internet presents a range of opportunities.
"A key driver of mobile search is location-based information. This is in contrast to regular Internet search, where users are accustomed to searching for a wide variety of different information. Simply put, mobile users will probably not be using their mobile phones to do research for homework assignments, or prior to purchasing a car or a house.
"Operators have recognised this need and have offered users mapping applications and features that help users click to call, click to find the nearest dealer or click to open a mobile web page for more information. This is a big opportunity for small business owners, as well. Search-based advertising is very efficient and generates high response because it provides valuable information that the user needs now," said Gelbaum.
According to data from Medio Systems via eMarketer, over 60 per cent of mobile searches in North America were for downloadable content. Surprisingly, adult content is ranked joint second (with general sites such as web portals such as MSN and Yahoo!) in the number of searches.
The data from October 2007 was focused on searches made through select mobile providers in North America including T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint and Telus networks.
A similar study by Handango, providers of mobile content also revealed the popularity of downloadable content. Three out of the top ten mobile search categories in the third quarter of 2007 were for downloadable content. Most revealing however, is that the most popular searches were those looking for free content.
Ronan Cremin, director of device and developer Initiatives, dotMobi believes users download content on mobile phones for quick fixes - more so than fixed Internet users.
"A common usage for mobile search is filling small gaps of time when you are out and about, sometimes referred to as "content snacking". People often look for ringtones, wallpapers, jokes, gossip, social networks, etc," he said.
Another study by Nielsen Mobile revealed how localisation will be a key factor in the success of the mobile web. Just over a quarter of searches (27.1 per cent) were for local listings, followed by ‘information’ (14.8 per cent) such as sports scores, news or weather, and mobile content (11.3 per cent).
According to Gelbaum, advertising will be one of the main sources of revenue for mobile search engines and mobile phones will allow them to be even more targeted:
"Content personalisation is going to control the market. It’s a key issue and ties in with search facilities, which in turn compliments any personalisation in content or advertising. The recent Amdocs Experience Matters Index study measured the impact of the customer experience on service providers by surveying the attitudes and behaviours of more than 2,000 subscribers of mobile, wireline, cable and satellite services in the United States and the United Kingdom.
While nearly three in ten US subscribers (28 percent) and one in three UK subscribers (33 percent) would accept advertising on their mobile phones - that percentage could increase if better ad targeting technologies were utilised," said Gelbaum.
Lucy Allen, Managing Director at search engine optimisation company, LBiNetrank offers advice on optimising your website for mobile search engines:
* Ensure that web page titles are short and concise.
* Adhere to mobile standards. (Validator.w3c.org is a useful site to visit).
* Connect, or link to, legitimate and popular websites much like you would with your current site.
* Make sure you are not disallowing mobile crawlers from spidering your site.
* Use XHTML.
* Design for low-end phones.
* Keep the URL structure hierarchical and as simple as possible.
* Specify the doc type in the XML preamble.
* Specify the character encoding.
* Keep links descriptive.