Changes in Mobile Search Behavior and Intent with Cindy Krum

cindy krum mobile search behavior

How has COVID-19 impacted mobile search behavior? To answer that question, Garrett turned to Cindy Krum, the CEO of MobileMoxie. MobileMoxie produces a variety of research and analysis tools to help companies master their mobile SEO and marketing strategy. They also consult with companies around the world to help them develop those strategies.

This is an interesting question primarily because COVID-19 has created a huge spike in mobile usage, and yet mobile search traffic and ad revenue are down.

In today’s podcast, find out what Cindy’s seeing, and use that to help you and your clients get ahead.

The highlights:

  • (1:27) How mobile search behavior is changing.
  • (7:01) Who are the biggest winners?
  • (9:13) Budget-friendly mobile marketing strategies.
  • (11:10) How the crisis is impacting mobile SERPs.
  • (13:37) How Google is struggling to keep up with a world gone more virtual.
  • (15:59) Is Google doing a good job?
  • (17:12) Cindy’s causes.

Want the insights fast? Here are the top takeaways.

What sort of changes have we seen to mobile search behavior?

“The things people are searching for are changing. If you think about it, with COVID there have been a lot of people who lost their jobs, which may have meant they lost access to a computer in the first place.”
Cindy also points out that there are a lot of people using their phones as the nexus of all their entertainment.  As for Google My Business? 
“They are trying to do a better job of showcasing changes with businesses and allowing businesses to communicate about: What are the ground rules? If they’re opening up? Do you have to wear a mask when you come in? What’s the cleaning regimen? All that stuff to make consumers feel more confident if they’re going out into the world that they’re going to be safe doing that.”
She points out that making updates to the website is never enough.
A lot of people aren’t getting to the website, because they’re getting a lot of information from Google. Normal people outside of our industry think Google knows everything all the time, in real-time. They don’t realize there are humans back there who have to update Google. You have to be really rigorous about it if your hours are changing, or your offering is changing – updating not just your website but Google, and then leveraging social media.”
She also really recommends staffing your social media accounts so that employees can answer questions in real-time, or as quickly as possible the next business day.

Who are the biggest beneficiaries of the shifts in mobile search?

Cindy doesn’t necessarily see a huge advantage emerging for “Mom and Pop” style businesses.
“The biggest winners are the companies who already had all the infrastructure ready to go. Things like and, the big box stores that sell everything at a good price and have the delivery already worked out. The other big winners are things like Zoom and Netflix, anything related to communication and entertainment.”
She says smaller companies are struggling because they’re having to learn and adapt. If they work across multiple states, they have to research and abide by different state situations, rules, and opening dates.  Smaller companies also don’t typically have the infrastructure to manage the logistics required to benefit from the changes. 
“Some are probably struggling just to get their PPP loans, which takes time, energy, and effort. That’s one employee, and if you’re a small enough company it’s probably just the boss doing that when they could be doing other things.”

Crafting a budget-conscious mobile strategy

Much depends on the company.
“We’ve definitely had some budget allocation strategies where companies just don’t have the revenues and are having to cut SEO. This is a bummer, because it’s the only place where they have the potential to make money is online. They’re cutting online because offline was cut. That’s unfortunate. But it’s the real world, and we work for companies who have had to furlough workers.”
She stresses remaining smart, efficient, and mindful of opportunities.
“We’ve told some companies this is the time to double down, to make sure everyone knows about their offering. If people are taking up new hobbies, this thing should be on the list of things they consider. If people want to learn a new skill, this should be on the list of things they consider.”
Cindy notes you should consider your industry, the offering, your capacity in terms of employees and finances, and then determine whether and how to make your pivots. 

How is the crisis impacting mobile SERPs?

COVID-related information is making it harder to stay above the fold in some places, especially for travel results.
“If you are in the travel space and there’s a big red caution symbol at the top of the SERP, that could be the thing that ticks people over to going: maybe I shouldn’t book this ticket, even though the prices are good. It also takes up space.”
Attempts to plot-real time data on COVID-related searches are also taking up space. Cindy believes that some of the concepts from these updates will be repurposed later. She expects we might later see lots of knowledge graphs for things like weather, sports, stocks, and interest rates.

Google has been struggling to keep up

One area Google’s really struggling with is supporting entities who want to repurpose live events into virtual ones.
“I was playing with it yesterday,” says Cindy. “There’s an integration of a third-party platform. If you want to schedule an event you sign up with the third party platform and you can pull it into GMB.”
There are a few platforms that let you do it like Eventbrite and Meetup.
Google events

So far, so good, because Cindy hit a snag.

“You have to include a physical address. I had to kind of rig the system to tell people to go to an URL, not the PO Box. Even if the event you’re setting up is not at your place of business, if it’s at an event hall or a venue, that’s all something they can set up, but they didn’t think to set it up for a Zoom meeting, or even a Google Hangout or Google Meet URL.”
It’s an oversight, but perhaps it’s one they’ll get through in the future. Cindy has mixed feelings about how Google is doing.
“As a user I do think they’re trying to do a good job for the user. As a marketer, I don’t think they’re necessarily doing right by the companies they’re lifting all this information from. At least, not yet.”

What’s your right now cause?

Cindy has two causes she’s passionate about. On the weekends she’s sewing masks to give out. So far she’s given them to one hospital, one food bank, and she’s about to send a batch to the school system since they’re still giving meals out to kids.

The second cause is one her mother is involved in. The second is to look for places to donate your old tablets and smartphones. These are being used to give people access to telemedicine without forcing them to buy an expensive phone or plan. In Colorado, the Department of Human Services is spearheading a lot of these efforts. There are similar programs in other states.

Connect with Cindy Krum

Want to connect with Cindy? 

Garrett Sussman

Garrett Sussman

Garrett is the head of content at Traject , a suite of digital marketing tools, and host of the Agency Ahead podcast. When he's not crafting content, he's scouting the perfect ice coffee, devouring the newest graphic novels, and concocting a new recipe in the kitchen.

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