Local Marketing

How to optimize for local mobile search

Understand how potential customers use local mobile search compared with desktop

Quick summary
  • Local mobile search is a common way for people to find goods and services in their area.
  • Optimizing for local mobile search is important for businesses that rely on nearby customers.
  • Semrush. Local helps businesses position themselves in local mobile search and attract more customers.

In recent years, there’s been a huge shift in the way people use search.

“Open near me” searches have shot up by 400% YoY between the periods of September 2019 to August 2020 and September 2020 to August 2021.

Voice searches are also on the rise. From 2019 to 2023, voice search usage increased by 146%, from 3.25 billion users to 8 billion.

This points to more people using mobile devices for local search and that businesses need to focus on local mobile search to compete with similar companies.

But what can businesses do to make sure they’re optimized for local mobile search? And how is it different from desktop search?

What is local mobile search?

Local mobile search is the use of handheld devices like smartphones and tablets to bring up useful information about the area.

People use local mobile search to find businesses, events, things to do, products, services, restaurants, travel routes and tourist attractions.

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Because most devices are equipped with GPS these days, search engines like Google can tailor results to a user's location without them having to type it. A mobile search for “florist” by a user in Irving should bring up local results, even though they didn’t specifically search “florist in Irving”.

Optimizing your business for local mobile search can reap huge rewards. An enormous 60% of smartphone users contact businesses directly from local mobile search results, according to Think With Google. And when all they have to do is click to call, businesses should definitely be prioritizing a strategy to appear in local mobile search.

Your local search guide: Businesses with limited resources for SEO trust Semrush .Local to help them boost local mobile search visibility and attract more customers.

How do I optimize my website for local mobile search?

Google has continuously increased the relevance of local mobile search in its algorithms.

This is hardly surprising when 46% of users are said to have a local intent.

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One of the best ways to take advantage of local mobile search is by making sure your website is responsive. This means users get an experience specifically designed for mobile devices, with simplified navigation, easy-to-read text and properly spaced out links.

Mobile websites should load especially fast to account for the fact that users may be connected via their data plan when out and about. You can do this by compressing images and optimizing your code.

Infinite scrolling can provide a better user experience on mobile sites to reduce the amount of button tapping required to navigate long lists.

Pop-ups that cover the screen are best avoided on mobile sites because it’s much harder for the user to dismiss them and access your content.

An important factor in mobile optimization is core web vitals, a score for a user’s experience with loading times, interactivity, and visual stability.

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Simple technical SEO: While you’ll need a developer to get your website mobile-friendly, you can get a site health report from Semrush to identify improvements to be made.

How is local mobile search different from desktop search?

Users might get different search results depending on whether they’re searching from a mobile device or a desktop computer.

Results may differ due to the speed of the connection and the device being used to conduct the search.

For example, desktop users may see more image and video results on the SERP (search engine results page) as they have more space to accommodate them.

Keyword research should be adjusted depending on whether your audience is more likely to discover your site on desktop or mobile.

Users conducting a local mobile search typically look up shorter queries, due to the nature of typing on a handheld device vs. a full keyboard.

When doing keyword research using Semrush, set the device to “mobile” to pull up suggestions specifically for local mobile search.

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Content optimized for local mobile search should also be shorter form and easier to digest. Similarly, voice searches (usually done on a mobile device) are typically in the form of a question, so consider common local queries and the answers you could provide in your content.

How can I outrank competitors in local mobile search?

Fortunately, Google itself has revealed the local factors it considers when ranking businesses in search.

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Review generation can be worked into your sales process with a simple text message asking for customer feedback (be sure to include a link ).

Good content optimized for local keywords can boost rankings for both local and organic search. It can also improve conversions and attract links from relevant sources.

Business listings help search engines understand how prominent you are. Appearing in the most well-known directories with consistent data across all of them can go a long way to improving how high you rank in local mobile search.

Quick boost: Distribute your business to 70+ top directories with Semrush’s Listing Management and build your online prominence fast.

Check your
local listings for free

Get ahead in local mobile search with Semrush Local

Local mobile search should be a consideration for any business that relies on customers who live in the area.

Fortunately, Semrush Local is here to guide businesses in the essential steps necessary to make sure your business doesn't miss out on local mobile search traffic.

Build citations the right way


Citation building is the distribution of accurate and consistent NAP data (name, address, phone number) to directories.

This can make a big impact on your local mobile search visibility, but a lot of businesses struggle to find the time to do it.

Listing Management was designed to help time-poor businesses compete in local mobile search and get the results they deserve.
Correct data in Listing Management

Manage your reviews without the stress

Reviews appear in Local Pack results and play a big part in local mobile search rankings.

It’s good practice to get back to everyone with a reply when they leave you a review, but with so many platforms, it’s easy to lose track.

Use Semrush’s Review Management to gather all your reviews together and get back to them all when you’re ready.
Review Management from Semrush

Fix errors before it’s too late

Consistency is key when it comes to local mobile search, but errors in listings can easily occur.

Without a dedicated tool to monitor your listings 24/7, you could be suffering ranking losses without even knowing it.

Listing Management never sleeps on protecting your NAP data, alerting you to the slightest discrepancy before it becomes a problem.
Possible duplicate profiles with an option to suppress

Track the local search data that matters

User location matters when it comes to local mobile search.

So instead of assuming your local ranking is consistent across your whole target area, take a closer look to identify the weak spots.

Heatmap is a Premium Location tool that highlights specific areas that need extra local SEO attention to help you cover all your bases.
Heatmap, a premium local mobile search tool
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