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Need for mobile-optimized search strategy intensifies: Forrester

Marketers need to kick their mobile search strategies into high gear now that 89 percent of consumers use a search engine on their mobile device, according to a new report from Forrester Research.
Forrester estimates the mobile paid search market will be at $3.8 billion by the end of 2013. The number of tablet and smartphone searchers is almost as high as personal computer searchers.
"People spend a lot of their time on their smartphones ? and a popular mobile behavior for them is search," said Jennifer Wise, analyst at Forrester Research, Cambridge, MA. "So, if you don?t have an optimized search strategy ? you are missing out on a lot of opportunities to reach a customer actively looking for your company or services.
"As companies enhance their search listings and sites to be mobile-friendly, mobile search does become a better experience for the end user," she said.
"Optimize Your Search Marketing With Mobile" was based, in part, on surveys of more than 61,000 individuals and from notes, resources and interviews with nine companies, including 360i, Google and Microsoft.
Searching mobile
Seventy-two percent of consumers are using smartphones, and the number is expected to rise to 86 percent by 2017.
As smartphone use increases, so does mobile search. The percentage of U.S. online adults who have used mobile search  ?  89 percent ?  is very close to the percentage who have used tablet and personal computer search, 91 percent and 97 percent, respectively.
Search functions differently on mobile phones than desktops. The results must be "immediate, simple and contextual," with top listings being "crucial due to small screens," according to the report.
Marketers are counseled to match their SEO with their customers' needs and interests.
"The mobile search user is different than the desktop search user," Ms. Wise said. "They are in a different context, they want different information, they will enter different search queries, the results will render on a smaller screen ? it is important for marketers to have a mobile-first search strategy to account for these factors and get found."
Mobile search variations

Optimizing searches
Google Enhanced Campaigns is another reason for marketers to prioritize mobile search, according to the report. Enhanced Campaigns is Google?s attempt to address low cost-per-click rates in mobile by lumping paid search campaigns for smartphones and tablets in with desktop. This means that marketers either need to have servers capable of delivering content to mobile users or embrace responsive design (see story).
"New ways of searching will change keywords and the accompanying results as well ? including the rise of voice-activated search, and predictive search intermediaries/agents such as Google Now," Ms. Wise said.
Google Now functions as a personal assistant available within the Google Search application.
Going forward, it is yet another reason marketers should prioritize and optimize their mobile strategy.
"Next up is the proliferation of more devices such as tablets which present their own unique search contexts," Ms. Wise said. "And in the future even more devices will impact the search market ? including smart devices such as smart watches and Google Now. These will present even more search contexts, and new interfaces that will alter the rendering of search results even further."

Final Take
Kari Jensen is staff writer on Mobile Marketer, New York