Monday, August 6, 2007

Local Search and PPC Will Dominate Mobile Applications

Local search and ppc will dominate the mobile market in a few short years. One of the items Google is flirting with in its mobile labs is free voice activated local business connection. You simply speak the name or category of a business into a dialed Google 411 number and Google will spit relevant options back at you. You respond, again with your voice, and you will automatically be connected to the business you selected.

So what does this have to do with search and with seo or sem?

Well, since the FCC sided with Google in the most critical areas of how the upcoming 700 mhz bandwith would be regulated, and since 20% of that bandwidth will be open access, Google has nothing but green lights ahead of it. And this means that Google's mobile model will not only compete in the market, it will become standard. If mobile searches made up even 10% of the total searches, this would be enough to drastically change how a site should be optimized. Especially considering that the searchers who are looking for a pizza place in their vehicles are not only qualified buyers, they are only blocks away and looking for a place to spend their money.

If you wonder what logical leap I took to go from Google flirting with a mobile directory, to its model becoming standard, please see my earlier rants, I mean posts. But for the uninitiated, the primer includes Google offering free phone service to its subscribers which will then put the others out of business. And today's soapbox could include the irony of how Google is pleading for an open market and claiming solidarity with public interest groups when it knows that it will completely swallow up all the others when its hand is fully played out.

But for now, let's look at what the Google mobile model might look like and why local search will be essential for search engine optimists (that's us...made that one up too) and search engine marketers very soon.

Here are the basic elements of the Google mobile experience, coming in monopoly form to a planet near you soon:

With your Google phone subscription you will be able to:

1. Search. (Normal search. But the question is, what will you be searching for in your car? Google will have that answer and an seo will also need to.)

2. Maps. As Google says, "Get directions, satellite imagery and live traffic on draggable maps so that you can find local hangouts and businesses across town." And probably a few ppc adds of businesses that are near your current coordinates. But how does Google know which ads to pitch to you? Well, they can see your Google search history, they can see what things you have searched for in the mobile application and which items you have clicked on. They, of course can tell when you are searching from a mobile device and what your patterns on the road are, and, of course, they can tell where you are because of the gps capability.

3. Gmail. (Obvious.)

4. Calendar. (Nifty.)

5. News. (Novel.)

6. SMS text messaging to Google and from Google. (Matrimony.)

7. Blogger. As Google says, " Snap a picture, write a message and post to your blog all from your mobile device." (Candy.)

8. Reader. "Read your favorite blogs and news feeds on your mobile device." (Crack.)

9. 1-800-Goog-411. "Use voice to find and connect with local businesses, for free." (Heroin.)

10. Picasa Web Albums. (Self-Indulgant.)

11. You Tube "Watch, upload, and share favorite videos — YouTube is available on your mobile device wherever you are." (Narcissism.)

Given that this user experience will likely expand in it scope of applications and it is based on the assumption that it will be standard, as discussed above, the bottom line is that it will have the reach to be able to command ppc advertising dollars. Want to go out for lunch? Ask your voice activated Google 411 about lunch specials. Your request will be met by some appealing lunch specials happening at some of the restaurants in your immediate vicinity. Of course, Google knows your tendency for Chinese food, so those are presented first.

Oh, and when you are driving by the mall, expect some text messages from Macy's or The Gap about their specials. Need to get the cheapest gas? Just ask. You will get location, directions, satellite pictures and traffic information. And probably some of their inside specials to boot.

So an seo will have to optimize a site, or at least a portion of a site, for local appeal for normal mobile searches. This will be a routine requirement. But sem ppc will rule the day in the maps and directory/Google 411 arena. This is all no longer an issue of if it will happen, it is now a matter of when. Nobody else can compete with free, and free is exactly how Google will bring its mobile model into the mainstream mobile world.

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