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The Intersection of Local and Mobile Searches

We’ve dealt with the prevalence of mobile internet use in the past on our blog. Often, our posts deal with the most recent industry developments that scream about how the moment when mobile devices take over the internet is nigh. Typically, our response has been that law firms and lawyers intent on marketing their services online can slow down, relax, and not get caught up in the rush to chase the red herring.

Here’s why we suggest this approach.

Attorneys should keep calm about where mobile and local searches intersect

Mobile Internet Still Surging…

The development in search engine and online marketing has not been new: Mobile devices like cell phones have increasingly been used to scour and surf the internet for years, now. The percentage of internet searches has long been around 50%. New figures have suggested that it’s closer to 58%.

This movement away from the desktop and towards the smartphone has been noted by professional marketers. Their calls to run to the hills and focus on mobile-friendliness have attracted quite the following.

…But They’re Mainly Local Intent Searches

Recent studies have finally been taking a look not at the ratio of mobile searches compared to traditional desktop ones, but at the types of mobile searches. What they’re finding is what we’ve expected, all along—they’re so-called “local intent” searches designed to find something close by, like:

  • Indian restaurants near me
  • Nearest ATM
  • I need to buy shoes

The results for searches like these use your device’s geographical location to provide relevant and important hits that are in the immediate vicinity. Many of the searches are to do some quick research on a product while in the store—like standing in the tools aisle of Home Depot and Googling Craftsman and Dewalt ratchet sets to read online reviews before making a purchase—or are looking for where or how to buy a particular something, from the hours of the local burger joint to what’s playing in the local movie theater.

This Isn’t How People Find Lawyers

This is what we’ve suspected about the overwhelming number of mobile searches, all along—they’re cheap, quick, easy, and all about current convenience. They’re largely associated with making a purchase—making them very warm leads for most businesses—but the goods they deal with are small, relatively inexpensive, consumer products.

We’re talking about people using their cell phones to decide where to eat lunch, not whether to hire a lawyer and which one to call. Those online adventures are not going to be done on a mobile device—they’re going to be done on a couch on a laptop or on the living room’s desktop, where the person looking for a lawyer can take their time, weigh their options, educate themselves on what they’re looking for, and then make a round of phone calls to find the lawyer they need.

That’s why we’ve been pulling lawyers back from the cliff’sedge, saying they shouldn’t worry that so many searches are done on mobile devices, that Google Amp isn’t as hot of an issue as it’s made out to be, and that, while attorneys should have a mobile-friendly website, they also don’t have to go overboard.