4 Tips for Mobile Search Advertising

By Megalytic Staff - April 24, 2018

We have now been living in the “age of mobile” for quite some time. We talk incessantly about mobile. Our mobile devices have become nearly attached to our hands and yet some businesses and agencies are still lagging a bit behind with their overall focus on mobile-specific search .
Being behind on some trends means missing them altogether, being behind on mobile adoption means being late to a digital revolution. Being fashionably, or at this point unfashionably, late to this party is actually costing businesses money. This is particularly true when it comes to paid search campaigns that include little to no differentiation between mobile and desktop searchers.
Fortunately, it’s not too late to tweak campaigns and ad groups to improve the mobile experience for potential customers. In this post, we’ll cover a few basic tips for maximizing the value of your ads in mobile search.

Have a True Mobile First Website and Landing Pages

You may be thinking “our site is designed to be responsive so we’re all set on mobile.” Unfortunately, that may not be entirely true. A responsive web design can still be a site that was originally designed for desktop screens that technically tiles down into a mobile sized screen as best it can. That’s not quite the same thing as a properly mobile optimized website.

When Google first began adjusting search results to favor responsive websites, many businesses rushed to tile out their templates as quickly as they could. While this strategy sufficed for meeting “mobile friendly” standards for Google’s search results, it in no way guaranteed that the websites were being designed with mobile users specifically or as their primary users. This resulted in many websites that technically tiled on a phone, but the sequencing and flow of content left a lot to be desired for people engaging with the site on a phone. Keyword visibility remained, but conversions suffered.

A mobile first design, however, implies one that’s been planned explicitly for mobile users first and foremost and that can tile up for a desktop sized screen. Having a mobile first website will help maximize the value of whatever leads are landing on your website or landing pages. Thinking about conversion opportunities on a smartphone first means that calls-to-action (CTAs) will be positioned in a way that makes them more visible, and more accessible, to users on mobile.
Sure, CTAs on a responsive, desktop first, design may still be available on mobile but are they prominent ? If mobile conversion rates are significantly lower on mobile than desktop users are not really responding to your responsive design and it may be time to rethink your layout.

Use Appropriate AdWords Ad Extensions for Mobile

Ad extensions from Google are great for mobile. Not only are they “free” (no additional cost beyond the original click bid), but there is a wide variety of them to choose from. Several are particularly well suited for mobile searches and setting up your extensions with mobile in mind can help maximize the value of your ad spend.

We know from Google’s own research that over 90% of mobile searchers eventually buy and that their mobile experience heavily influences their purchasing decisions . Moreover, 50% of mobile searchers intend to buy within the next hour ! Those are powerful user behaviors, so which ad extensions can you use to capitalize on them?

There are a number of different ways to use various extensions that can help support mobile campaigns but our top four are:

Local extensions - If your business, or client, has brick and mortar locations then location extensions are going to make a big difference in ad performance. Setting up location extensions is going to allow mobile searchers to find the various addresses on a map, and get directions to or call a specific location.

Callout extensions - These extensions can also have an impact on mobile searches that may be happening in your general proximity. Options for these include callouts like “Open 24/7” or “Free local delivery”. This additional info can influence visit or purchase consideration and help convert online searches into offline foot traffic.

App extension - If you have a mobile app, this extension can help drive downloads and usage. This might be useful for businesses that don’t have the brick and mortar presences described above, but for whom mobile users are still critical.

Message extensions - If you have the ability to receive texts these can be another excellent way to encourage communication. When a user clicks on the message icon in this ad extension it opens their messaging app with a pre-populated message that you provide, allowing them to contact you that way. This can be particularly useful to attract mobile users who prefer not to make calls.

Browse through the various ad extensions that are available and experiment with different combinations and measure the results to find the right mix that appeals to your target audience.

Store Open Sign

Optimize Ad Delivery for Suitable Time Windows

Depending on the type of business or ad being served, some windows of time may lend themselves to more mobile intensive user activities. For example:

  • A business that sells food will likely see distinct rushes around lunch and dinner times.
  • A lawn and garden center offering a great deal on mulch may find that new homeowners are more likely to make that purchase on a weekend, rather than a weekday.
  • A lawyer specializing in DWI representation may discover that relevant searches are often happening in the wee hours of the night to the early morning and on weekends.
  • A brick and mortar shop, that is only open for business from 8AM to 6PM Monday through Friday, may see little value from mobile ads served in the evening or on weekends.

Fortunately, both AdWords and Bing Ads both have specific features for managing the timing of your ads. In AdWords, for example, you can temporarily de-activate campaigns for short intervals (as brief as 15 to 30-minute windows) and re-activate them later. You can turn off bid activity for specific days or times of the day as a consistent rule for any given ad group or campaign. But if suspending ads at certain time is less than ideal, you can also work to become more aggressive with bids during critical time windows.

By better understanding when various audience and customer segments turn to their phones phones , we can better optimize our bidding strategies to more aggressively target these users at those moments. Consider increasing bid amounts 10% or 20% more during high-value time windows to make sure you get the right messaging to the right users, at the right time.

Optimize Ad Delivery for Suitable Area Ranges

Just like time windows, there are also going to be geographical ranges that are more optimal for mobile search ads than others. An important question to ask might be “what is the ideal geographic area for our best mobile search prospects?” Beyond just mileage, also consider the type of area that surrounds you. Think about it this way, 15 miles in the suburbs is a relatively brief jaunt for a driver. But if you’re running a small coffee shop or bar in Manhattan, that same 15 miles means traversing across the entire length of the island. In that case, the searcher might as well be in another state.
Luckily, there are also several geo-specific features in paid search advertising that businesses can use. Consider using a combination of general geo-awareness and stricter geo-fencing options to better target searchers who are in meaningful proximity to locations where you’re actively trying to drive foot traffic.

For that small coffee shop in Manhattan, that area may be an 8 to 12 square block radius around the store. For a real estate agent, that might mean aggressively bidding on specific zip codes based on the median income or the current state of the housing market. The potential use cases are seemingly endless, but what they all have in common is leveraging technology to utilize information that’s often plainly understood offline and apply it to online interactions as well.


When we’ve identified mobile searchers as the core “who” that we’re targeting, it allows us to begin better addressing all the other “W” concerns in our search ad campaigns specifically where, when, what and why. By focusing on the most suitable area ranges and time windows, we can better address the where and the when concerns. By using relevant and compelling ad extensions, we can also address the critical what and why components. But it all starts with making sure that websites and landing pages use a mobile first design. Mobile searchers have specific needs and behaviors that necessitate tactics which are truly mobile-focused. There are many other ways to analyze and adjust your sites and ads for mobile performance but these basic tips will give you a solid foundation for a mobile-optimized campaign.