Web Search & Marketing Newsletter - February 2012
Welcome to the latest edition of our monthly newsletter, which covers some of the recent trends and developments in the field of web search and online marketing.
In this month's issue we focus on the rapid growth of the mobile web over the past 12 months and how it's starting to have a significant impact on search activity and website visits. Mobile web usage is increasingly becoming a significant factor to consider when developing websites or an online business strategy, so we examine some tools that can check if your site is mobile friendly. You can also read about the exciting new mobile marketing features in Google AdWords and the advantages of tracking mobile use in Google Analytics.
You can read more below, or you can also browse through previous editions of the newsletter, either by month or by subject. You can also follow us on Twitter for the latest developments during the month, or follow our Facebook page.
On to this month's edition...
The State of Mobile Internet / Search Activity
According to recent forecasts, the first time that the number of global users who access the Internet via a mobile rather than a PC will be in 2014. The comparable numbers are currently 900 million from the former device and 1.4 billion from the latter. Assuming that if the annual growth rate in mobile phone subscriptions is about 2% between 2010 and 2015, then there will be approximately 6.35 billion of those within the next 3 years. Of those, a third will use that device to access the web.
The 2011 edition of eMarketer states that of those, 33% are looking for local content relevant to their current GPS position. Now, the young generation that has never known life without the Internet are increasingly using their mobiles like the older generations used Yellow Pages to find local information. So if you're targeting young people in a localised market, it's essential to have a mobile compatible site.
In Australia, the mobile adoption rate is 37%, which is much higher than the US or UK and second in the world only behind Singapore. So the need to adapt to this emerging technology is even more urgent here. Interesting data measuring the global smartphone impact can be found here.
Is Your Site Mobile-Friendly?
There are a number of websites and online tools that can be used to check how your website performs on a mobile - if you don't have a smartphone to do this in the first place! A very useful initiative by Google is the GoMo site that aims to change the way the web works on mobile devices. This project is primarily for mobile phones but could be aimed at all forms of mobile devices, like iPads and other tablets.
GoMo helps you build a site for all of these mobile platforms and it provides case studies and statistics to support why you should go mobile. By offering a comprehensive resource for websites who may not have gone mobile yet, webmasters can learn why they should go mobile, the best practices for mobile and how to get the process started. Webmasters can even test their sites from GoMo to see how mobile they really are to visitors.
There are more useful mobile website emulators that allow you to check if your website is mobile-friendly.
The accuracy of some of these tools have been questioned however, as some sites that receive low scores still look fine on mobiles. The problem is the wide variety of makes and models of smartphones, on a variety of different platforms. So although testing tools may be a useful resource, it's worth also getting feedback from users of mobile devices about what they are actually seeing.
A recent study found that 61% of mobile users are not likely to return to a site that does not provide a good mobile experience. In response, Google initiated a shift in their policy that will reward mobile sites with good optimisation and they have offered a few priorities to get your site optimised for mobile usage:
- Keep the layout and design simple
- Prioritise your content
- Use markedly mobile features
- Make your site easy to convert
This may sound easy, but as mobile usage increases and web developers offer mobile design options, the implementation and testing of good mobile websites will become a more common process.
Using Mobile Marketing Features in Google AdWords
Due to the unprecedented growth in the use of mobile devices to access the Internet, Google recently announced some new mobile targeting functionality for AdWords. This enhanced feature allows advertisers to target to specific versions of mobile operating systems, to ensure the ads are going to the right users.
It's now also possible to target according to the whether a faster Wi-Fi connection is being used as well as by mobile carriers. Google says targeting by Wi-Fi will let advertisers expand their reach, and will be particularly useful if the campaign or landing page features high-bandwidth content like video.
The mobile specific ads have had the ability to include 'click to call' phone numbers below them for a couple of years now as an Ad Extension for adverts appearing on mobiles. In addition, the segmentation reports in AdWords now show mobile interaction down to keyword level, which is a great feature to develop these type of campaigns. If you're using an iPhone, Android, or other smartphone, you just click the number to call the business and if it's a local store or restaurant with multiple locations, the integration with Google Places listing will allow you to call the nearest one.
In addition to this, Google also included more specific click-to-call advert extensions, which enables the ability to use bid-per-call (currently only in the US and UK) and view data on mobile calls.
The importance of these enhancements will rise rapidly in the near future, so it's essential to create a separate, mobile-targeted AdWords campaign now to gain a significant competitive advantage. Not only will this give your business a better reach, but also a lower cost-per-click and higher click-through-rate in this early period, while the adoption of the technology isn't too widespread.
Tracking Mobile Use in Google Analytics
In November 2011, Google announced the launch of enhanced Analytics reports that include mobile ad performance metrics. All AdWords metrics available in Google Analytics can now be segmented by the new mobile and tablet dimensions in the form of: "All", "High-end Mobile" and "Tablet" ads.
This again highlights the growing importance of these devices and the increasing significance placed upon them by Google, as the shift towards mobile makes an adoption of an updated marketing strategy necessary. It's highly recommended that you view your Analytics data over the past year to see this increase in mobile activity. You can segment your data just by mobile usage which makes it easier to identify any potential issues your site may be having when viewed from these devices, as well as the increasing potential number of visits and conversions from them.
So this new access to the mobile device data will help businesses get a better understanding of how mobile advertising will interact with them in the future and how the specific targeting of them can be very effective.
As we predicted in last month's newsletter, mobile marketing is likely to become a significant issue for many business websites this year - so is your strategy in place? If you'd like to know more about how mobile marketing could impact your website, and how to get the most from Google AdWords and Analytics for mobiles, please contact us now for more information.
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We hope you've found this month's newsletter useful. Please contact us if you need any more information on the items covered, or our advice on any aspect of your website's performance. Also, if there are any issues you would like to see in future editions of this newsletter, please submit your suggestions to us.