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Search engine optimization is killer app for mobile

By Jacques Hart

The emergence of the smartphone ? a Web-enabled phone that acts like a mini-computer ? as the hottest new consumer device in decades is creating powerful new synergies for savvy marketers.

Here is the little secret that Google and Bing want to keep quiet: organic search engine presence is platform-agnostic.

As long as companies continue to invest in search engine optimization (SEO) to maintain a healthy presence in search engine results pages (SERPS), they will not be disenfranchised by the shift to the mobile Web.

Companies that optimize their Web sites for search engines and their crawlers will enjoy the same rankings in the mobile world as in the PC world.

SEO bridges screens
Indeed, SEO bridges the gap between the second and third screens.

Already considered the most effective online marketing strategy for generating conversions, SEO will become even more critical with the proliferation of smartphones and as the mobile Web surpasses the World Wide Web in usage.

SEO currently accounts for an estimated $1.4 billion-plus in total annual U.S. ad spend.

SEO is even more critical for companies that depend on local sales and traffic, such as retail, hospitality, dining and entertainment.

For instance, the percentage of mobile searches which have local intent will increase from 28 percent in 2008 to 35 percent in 2013.

In addition to the SEO implications, marketers should consider delivering their paid search ads to mobile devices.

In the past, most marketers have not selected this option and instead have chosen to deliver their paid search ads only to computers. This outdated strategy must be reconsidered as it will leave out a huge market segment.

Smartphones are set to surpass laptops this year in unit sales and by 2012 in revenues.

Surf wars
Not only are the giant mobile phone device makers awakening to this trend, but so are some other unusual suspects ? Google, Dell, Microsoft, and HTC, among others.

This turf war for market share is pushing down price points and increasing consumer demand and adoption.

Each one of these players has a stake in mobile.

For Google, it is search. Mobile search advertising revenues are expected to increase from $20 million in 2008 to $1.3 billion in 2013, a compounded annual growth rate of 130.5 percent.

With the launch of its Nexus One mobile phone, Google plans to capitalize on the "superphone" to expand its reach from the PC to the mobile phone and ensure its online products and ads get prominent placement on a new breed of mobile Internet devices.

In addition, Google?s Android mobile operating system is currently being leased to more than 20 new smartphone devices.

In doing so, Google?s search engine platform will be repurposed for mobile phones and the ?third screen.?

Google uses the same PageRank algorithm to determine organic rankings in search engine results pages (SERPS) for computers (the World Wide Web) as it does for phones (the mobile Web).

Consumers are media-agnostic
Google?s mantra is simple: mobile is just another platform in the communications ecosystem in which consumers are media-agnostic. Let us break this down:
1. Mobile is just another touch-point for reaching target markets.

2. People are consumers of information in a complex ecosystem in which information is interconnected from print to Web and Web to mobile.

3. Consumers are in the driver?s seat and consume information how and when they want it, irrespective of the medium.

Currently, more than 35 percent of all new mobile phone sales are smartphones, and it is no surprise they are selling like hotcakes.

After all, these mobile mini-computers enable consumers to do, from almost anywhere, many of the same tasks they do via their computers.

One could argue that thanks to all the made-for-mobile applications, user experiences with the third screen are actually richer than with the second screen.

In 2008, the total users who accessed the Web via mobile surpassed the total users who access it via a PC at least part of the time.

Already, more than 400 million Internet users access the Internet exclusively via their mobile phones. We have reached a tipping point.

With tight budgets and time constraints, savvy marketers should embrace the Google mantra: do not reinvent yourself ? simply leverage your strengths and adapt them to new platforms.

In other words, keep building content, continue optimizing your site, and your story will be found in the mobile world.

Jacques Hart is CEO of Roar Media, a Miami, FL-based integrated public relations and digital communications firm. Reach him at .