More and more people are using mobile devices everyday. Sixty-eight per cent of smartphone users check their phone within 15 minutes of waking up, and over 60% of searches come from mobile devices. As mobile search continues to rise in popularity, it is becoming more important for search marketers, especially those in on-demand consumer-facing industries, to have a dedicated mobile presence.

Mobile search volumes are increasing at a much faster rate than desktop, and experts predict that this trend is set to continue in the future. Search giants, Google and Bing both place mobile experience at the forefront of their SERPs, with constant streams of mobile-friendly updates. This, in turn, puts pressure on search marketers to follow suit in order for their brands to remain visible and not fall below the fold on the mobile SERP.

There are many different ways to build a mobile first PPC strategy. A successful approach from the start requires an understanding of how the mobile market differs from desktop.

In the past 12 months, the industry has seen search CPCs increase substantially on mobile and CTRs on the platform drop off 45% faster on lower SERP positions than desktop or tablet. Without this type of knowledge and insight into how competitors are performing, it is difficult for brands to build a PPC strategy strong enough to not be outbid by competition on mobile.

Google’s SERP displays differently not just between mobile and desktop, but also between mobile devices. Yet worryingly, many still choose to duplicate their desktop activity across mobile with just a few minor bid adjustments in place. This is contrary to all advice from the search engine providers themselves. The mobile market must be treated completely separately, difficult to do without detailed data and insight into performance.

Competition varies on a mobile device, there is less screen space and even less room for organic listings above the fold. As a result search marketers must regularly analyse both their own ad copy and their competitors to see how they appear in different conditions on the SERP.

Consumption patterns can also vary largely between desktop and mobile, so it is essential for brands to optimise ads for both platforms. Ad copy and visible URLs on mobile should be shorter and written with specific demographics in mind. I’d also recommend looking into ad extensions. These are a great way to offer a user more information and secure higher ‘real estate’ on the search results page. This can in turn help to influence search rankings and drive higher CTRs. For example, an ad that includes a call extension in ad copy allows a user to perform a conversion in fewer clicks than one that first goes through to a website.

Understanding where and when to utilise specific tactics and strategy is key to success in search engine marketing. The more data-driven you can be, the better, so getting to know the whole market is key. Real world trends can influence mobile searches much more quickly than desktop, so ensuring your brand has the capability to monitor and take advantage of these is essential.

With more and more brands taking note of the power of mobile, competition is growing on the small screen SERP. Without a clear mobile first PPC strategy, that is both supported and driven by data, search marketers will find it incredibly challenging to be seen above the fold. Look to invest in technology to meet these challenges.

Replicating desktop strategies without any edits will most likely see brands spend considerable amounts of money, without seeing many positive results. In order to avoid falling behind competitors on the SERP, it is vital that search marketers adopt a clear mobile first PPC strategy that has been designed with a competitor, user and mobile market intelligence in mind.


By Ian O’Rourke, founder and CEO of Adthena

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