Mobile Ascends The Throne Of Search

At its recent AdWords LiveStream 2015 event, Google announced that mobile search volume had passed desktop in the U.S., Japan, Canada and seven other undisclosed markets.  The company used this as the backdrop for highlighting three features rolled out in the past year: 1) app promotional tools 2) cross-device conversions and 3) store-visit insights.

Beyond its specific products, Google made some provocative statements (“the purchase funnel is officially dead”) and tied its work on “micro-moments” to new AdWords opportunities.  Micro-moments are described as “the I-want-to-know, I-want-to-go, I-want-to-do and I-want-to-buy moments.”  It emphasized three major industries: automotive, finance and travel.

The implications are obvious to retailers, especially those in the emphasized industries, but there is much for every search marketer to consider.  Here are four:

Google’s role.  Much like its insertion into the general display of content, Google is doubling down on its foray into comparison tools.  If it’s not actively involved in your industry, it likely will be soon.  In general, this is a good thing, as Google has rationalized the paid search marketplace: constantly removing spammy advertisers, developing innovations helpful to marketers and constantly refining the user experience.  Remember when ads were ranked strictly based on bid?  Increasingly, relying entirely on organic search means willingly giving up the top of the page for competitive terms.

Mobile.  Mobile is now arguably more important than the desktop.  Your analytics may still show quite a bit more desktop visits than mobile but a) the nature of these two types of visits are different and b) this could be a function of poor mobile search rankings.  We are starting to see some poor mobile experiences impact mobile rankings subsequent to the April 21 Mobilegeddon, when it made its mobile-friendly algorithm change.  In urban, highly competitive markets, being mobile-friendly makes a big difference.

Local search.  As more and more searches turn mobile, it’s more important than ever to manage your physical locations.  The good news is you no longer need to be in every directory site.  Start by searching for competitive terms to see what directory sites rank well for your industry.  These are the directory site for which you’ll need to have accurate NAP (Name, Address, Phone No.) information.  That said, making effective use of directory sites and managing listings on Google+ can be a cumbersome process, especially if your business has a large number of locations. Marketers should consider local automation as a means of streamlining this highly involved process.

Attribution.  Cross-device conversions and store visit insights are just two of the great new tools that will help you measure your overall marketing performance in today’s new environment.  These are free tools associated with AdWords, but there are more available in Google Analytics. Reporting platforms such as Visual IQ, AOL/Convertro and Google (Adometry) are enterprise-level systems that tie together your disparate marketing channels and allow you to move beyond simple (and misleading) “last-click” analysis.

The search landscape has witnessed the long-awaited crowning of mobile as the king of all platforms.  Google is taking full advantage, making significant changes to its mobile algorithm, rolling out new features and enhancing its attribution tools.  Regardless of your involvement in paid search, these changes are tremendously important and require your immediate attention.  Start by examining your mobile search landscape today and building a plan to take advantage of the opportunities you uncover.

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