Trade and moonlighting software developers alike are clamoring to develop the next killer mobile local search application for one of the current mobile application stores-many now competing for attention with nearly 50,000 iPhone applications alone. This means mobile local search applications must not just stand apart in whiz-bang technology but also dominate in user experience. As Knowledge Center contributor Brian Wool explains, in order to secure and hold consumers' attention, content is the critical ingredient to creating powerful and lasting mobile local search applications.
Mobile local search application developers should closely
evaluate the content providers they select. Content management can be a
confusing market with a wide range of pricing models, but a data provider on
the cheap may have a negative impact post-launch. Mobile searchers expect
local-based applications to deliver correct and dynamic content quickly, and
they will grow discouraged with inaccurate results.
Mobile local search developers have three options for
culling data to populate their search directories: data scraping, advertiser
feeds and content providers. Data scraping involves original research to pull
contact information from other research and Internet sources and input into a
database. It can be a quick startup option; however, updates are time-intensive
for a small operation.
Advertiser feeds from Internet Yellow Pages (IYP) sites can
be a quick and low-cost option for pulling local content. However, developers
typically don't realize that they are not getting comprehensive business
listings, as these providers typically only address 10 to 25 percent of the
total local business universe in any given city. Also, with an advertiser feed,
developers have no control over the presentation of the data or search results.
Plus, there are limited opportunities to monetize the content as traffic
generated by a search goes to the feed site versus the mobile application.
While these applications monetize their leads at a minimum
of $3 per call (and typically much higher), only a nickel goes to the mobile
application-which is not enough to build a sustainable revenue model. The
bottom line is that inconsistent search functionality can have long-term impact
and limits any short-term money savings.
If you decide that a content provider is the best option,
remember these four best practices:
Best practice No. 1: Put a budget on content
Mobile applications offer limited real estate, with a
maximum 3.5-inch screen, and require highly structured and contextual content.
Data is essential to the long-term success of any mobile local search
application and a few wrong moves can mean big consequences. Users will get
frustrated quickly with poor search results.
Best practice No. 2: Consider serving a niche market need
Consider serving a niche market need and think of ways to
slice and dice for the most relevant content to your application. If you are
developing a vertical-focused application, you don't need access to 15 million
listings. You can trim your budget by tailoring your available listings. For
example, an auto aftermarket estimating tool and iPhone application wouldn't
need to have data on restaurants, plumbers or doctors in its database.
Best practice No. 3: Don't underestimate the power of search
engine optimization (SEO)
While mobile users today typically are not browsing the Web
on their phone the way they would on a laptop or desktop, that behavior is
starting to change. With hardware and software advances, browser-based mobile
searches are on the rise. Good, local content drives SEO and your application
should be ready to monetize its searches.
Best practice No. 4: Provide more than just an address and
Local searchers today expect more than just basic contact
information. To enhance the search experience and drive repeat visits, select a
data provider that can offer additional business keyword feature attributes
appropriate for your market. For example, make sure your data provider can
execute a search for a "Chicago restaurant patio" or "Chicago child cavity."
With the growth in mobile device use and technology, mobile
local search application developers today have an opportunity to make their
mark. Make sure you don't waste your energy by not fully evaluating one of the
critical ingredients to mobile local search success. Remember, it's all about
Brian Wool is Vice President of Content Distribution at Localeze. With nearly 20 years of experience in database markets,
Brian oversees all aspects of the company's client services efforts. Brian has
been instrumental in the success of Localeze by establishing relationships with
leading search companies and local search engine publishers alike. An expert in
local Internet-search marketing, Brian has been a columnist covering various
local-search issues, and is a frequent speaker at industry-leading local search
conferences. Prior to joining Localeze, Brian held various positions at
comScore Networks, Claritas and Equifax-National Decision Systems. He can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brian Wool is Vice President of Content Distribution at Localeze. With nearly 20 years of experience in database markets, Brian oversees all aspects of the company's client services efforts. Brian has been instrumental in the success of Localeze by establishing relationships with leading search companies and local search engine publishers alike. An expert in local Internet-search marketing, Brian has been a columnist covering various local-search issues, and is a frequent speaker at industry-leading local search conferences. Prior to joining Localeze, Brian held various positions at comScore Networks, Claritas and Equifax-National Decision Systems. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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