Mobile and Paid Search – Why it’s Still a Big Deal

Since we published our first blog post on the importance of mobile for paid search in 2010, the impact of mobile has only grown. As of the 3rd quarter of 2020, a whopping 52% of all global internet traffic comes from mobile devices.

If you’re a Google advertiser, the impact is even heavier — 65% of clicks on paid Google search results come from mobile devices. The figure was nearly half that (34%) only five years ago. 

Today’s digital marketers have witnessed the transition from desktop searches to mobile searches, as Americans are leaving behind their desktops and laptops and managing their lives with mobile phones. Take a look at the statistics below, and you’ll see that today more than ever, mobile search optimization is paramount to pay-per-click (PPC) success.

Today’s numbers:

  • 90% of mobile device owners conduct mobile searches. As of the first quarter of 2021, there are almost four billion active mobile phones globally. That means there are 3.6 billion mobile searchers. 
  • 91% of smartphone owners made a purchase after seeing a relevant ad.
  • 70% of all paid search impressions are on mobile devices.
  • 53% of users abandon sites that take longer than three seconds to load.
  • The average click-through rate (CTR) for a Google search ad on mobile is 4.1%. That’s nearly a full percentage point higher than the 3.17% average CTR for a desktop ad.

Another statistic for marketers to notice is that Google drives 95% of paid search ad clicks on mobile. Google is shifting its efforts from desktop to mobile advertising. Any good digital marketer worth their salt knows that when Google wants to lead us in a particular direction, our results are better when we follow along. 

Cross-device traffic is also more critical than ever, with many searchers still utilizing a combination of desktop and mobile to complete a purchase. Unfortunately, as of September 2020, only 13% of websites are able to retain the same position for a particular search across all devices. So, your ads may have excellent desktop positioning but not even appear on the first page of results on mobile. According to one study, 30% of ads on the first page of desktop search results do not appear in the top 10 results on mobile.

Here are two reliable methods to revisit our previous recommendations for checking your site’s mobile-friendliness:

1. Check how friendly your site is on mobile devices using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test page or Bing’s Mobile-Friendly Tool.

2. See how fast your site loads and what’s slowing it down at PageSpeed Insights.

Another new facet of the PPC environment to pay close attention to is voice search. With the growing popularity of digital assistants like Google Home and Amazon Alexa, more and more people are using their voices to search and shop. According to the online business education company Oberlo, 112 million people in the U.S. used voice search in 2020, and they expect that number to increase to 123 million in 2021.

Here are some tips for optimizing your content for voice searches, according to Smart Insights:

  • Voice searchers are essentially asking their smart speaker for answers to their questions. Your site content needs to provide direct answers to a typical inquiry.
  • Use long-tail keywords. While many advertisers avoid them, they’re essential when trying to capture voice searches.
  • Use natural language. Assume you are speaking directly to the searcher, keeping a natural tone of voice.

Today more than ever, optimizing your website for mobile and voice searches can mean the difference between success and failure. Follow Google’s lead to keep your results in top shape and your account at its peak performance.

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