The Rise of Paid Search Ads on Mobile

Written by: 
Benjamin Rudolph

For many popular search queries, there are no organic listings above the fold on a mobile device. That means that if you are a company that competes in those categories, you have to buy ads on Google if you want to show up in a top position. The nature of Google’s ad buying system is that it is an auction, so there is a lot of competition for very little space.  


Google has publicly shared that it receives over 100 billion searches per month, and more than half of those searches are from mobile devices. As smartphone penetration increases, more users are conducting more mobile searches, so attempting to reach that audience as they look to research and purchase a variety of goods and services becomes increasingly important.

What are the implications of this trend?

  1. Importance of Measurement: How much can you afford to spend on a keyword? Understanding how much you spend on clicks and how many of those clicks become a lead or a sale becomes that much more significant.  
  2. Importance of Diversification: Maybe you can’t rely on paid search or organic search exclusively for leads. Social, Display, and Email are increasingly important parts of an overall online strategy.
  3. Importance of Conversion Optimization: If we only get a limited amount of traffic, we need to make sure that we maximize the opportunity.
  4. Importance of Mobile Site Optimization: If your website isn’t easy to use on a mobile device, your competitor’s site will be and that will put you at a disadvantage. Many sites are now responsive, but that doesn’t mean they convert easily. Reduce the friction for mobile customers.
  5. Importance of Aggregator/Vertical Sites: If a user does scroll down below the fold, they’re very likely to find aggregator websites specific to a vertical (ex. Yelp for restaurants, TripAdvisor for hotels, and for real estate). Those represent additional optimization and paid advertising opportunities. Those will vary by industry, but given the limited amount of screen space, every pixel counts.

Conduct a Mobile Checkup

Below is a list of free ways to check your mobile health:  

  1. Google PageSpeed Tool (Free -- screenshot below) -- Determine how fast your site loads on mobile devices. Google will give you a score out of 100.
  2. Conduct a Mobile Search (Free) -- Search for your product or service (not by brand name) and see what you find. Presumably you’ll find other advertisers and vertical aggregation sites.
  3. Review Google Analytics Data (Free) -- Check your Google Analytics mobile traffic. What percentage of your site traffic comes from mobile and how does it convert?

Benjamin Rudolph is the President & CEO of Relevance Advisors. Interested in leveraging mobile search ads for your business?

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