Mobile-Minded Search Strategies

Part 3 of a series on mobile/local marketing

Posted by Daina Middleton, CEO

In my last post, “Get Local Fast & Effectively with Mobile Search,” I outlined a few benefits of embracing mobile paid search now. These include booming growth projections for mobile search, growth of mobile as a portion of overall paid search and mobile paid search as an easy entry to mobile marketing, and word is spreading quickly.

Performics’ 2011 Mobile Insights Study released earlier this year showed overwhelming participant satisfaction with and adoption of mobile search. Seventy-five percent of respondents said mobile search makes their lives easier, while 63 percent said access to mobile search has changed the way they gather information. Not surprisingly, marketers are starting to take note and according to the latest SEMPO State of Search Report, fourteen percent more companies considered the rise of the mobile Internet to be highly significant or significant in 2011, compared to 2010.

Mobile blog 1 

In March, mobile paid search grew to at least ten percent of impressions for all paid search campaigns managed by Performics. This double-digit threshold often marks the tipping point at which new technologies gain more widespread adoption; so marketers shouldn’t expect the growth of mobile paid search to slow down any time soon.


Rather than spend more time justifying investment in mobile paid search, I want to focus on mobile-specific search strategies for marketers already on board. After all, mobile paid search has long been generating results for Performics clients at click costs and conversion rates far superior to those of overall paid search advertising. So now we’d like to share some of the ways marketers can fine-tune their mobile search campaigns for similar success.

Consider this sampling of mobile-specific search strategies as a staring point:

#1 Optimize location-based keywords

More people search on their phones for location-based keywords. While one in five desktop users include location in their search queries, one in three mobile users do the same (Google).

This will seem obvious to some readers but setting up a separate, dedicated keyword portfolio for paid search to capture this increased location-based demand among mobile users gets overlooked more often than most marketers might think.

Expecting a core paid search keyword portfolio to effectively and efficiently capture demand among mobile users presents problems on many levels, including over spending and under performing. Even at the most basic level, marketers should remember that the keyword sets could differ greatly based on the situations and needs specific to a mobile vs. a desktop user.

#2 Leverage mobile friendly landing pages

Marketers who effectively employ mobile friendly landing pages should expect to achieve increases in both click through and conversion rates. Performics’ clients tend to achieve both very quickly when they create mobile landing pages with the straightforward goal of improving the experience of the mobile searcher

Marketers that embrace landing pages should strive for:

  1. Code simplicity: keep site layout simple, use minimalistic and clean site code, keep images scarce; avoid pop ups, flash, java script and redirects
  2. A mobile friendly user interface: optimize navigation with touch friendly elements and limit scrolling to only one direction
  3. Availability of helpful content: mirror desktop content, provide the option to move to the desktop site, and track and measure performance with analytics

#3 Coordinate national, regional and local efforts to boost efficiencies

Integrating these three tiers to ensure they work together reduces the cannibalism, home grown price hikes and other negative nuances for brands that advertise nationally but also have regional and local entities to consider. If your brand fits this profile, work first and foremost to ensure the tiers complement one another, not compete with one another. Emphasize integrated search processes to efficiently extend search reach and visibility.

Brands that can get their three tiers humming along cooperatively can expect to reduce costs for entities at all three levels by integrating and centralizing campaigns and processes to create synergies across the organization. More specifically, seek out new efficiencies by:

  • Coordinating bid adjustments across tiers with bid ceilings that prevent leapfrog bidding and rules of engagement to prevent in-market bidding wars.
  • Developing ad copy across all tiers to increase overall click through rates and quality scores; over time, this also reduces campaigns’ average cost per click and helps to stave off market driven bid inflation
  • Pooling data across all tiers to help make better-informed decisions, which allows lower volume regional and local campaigns to benefit from a much larger knowledge base.

#4 Overhaul paid search bid strategy

I can’t say this enough: marketers need to build out separate desktop and mobile campaigns so all their mobile paid search campaigns have different bid strategies than their desktop counterparts. Below, aggregate data from all Performics clients illustrate how significant CPC reduction can be achieved by doing so. Remember, as quality scores rise, CPCs decline.

Mobile blog 2 

Many nuances exist that ought to contribute to the development of mobile specific paid search bid strategies. Consider, for example, that most smart phones display only two search results in response to most queries. Many desktop campaign keywords may be optimized to attain position four, but this optimization wouldn’t work nearly as well on a smart phone, necessitating many brands to aim for higher rankings in mobile. A completely different set of competitors in mobile paid search can also significantly impact bid strategy, but many other factors contribute.

Convinced about the potential of mobile paid search but still not quite sure how to move forward? Contact us, we’d be happy to start the conversation and offer some guidance.

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