Google’s Keyword Tool Goes Mobile

Perhaps it’s time for you to take advantage of the growing percentage of search queries that originate from mobile devices. Google has made it easier with a recent enhancement of the Google Keyword Tool, which lets you do keyword research specifically for mobile devices. You’ll even have the option of specifying “all mobile devices” or looking at the subsets of either “mobile WAP devices” or “mobile devices with full Internet browsers,” which, depending on your site’s landing page and your target audience, may be just the ticket. Even desktop/laptop search queries have a local intent a significant percentage of time. According to Microsoft’s internal data, mobile device search queries have local intent 53 percent of the time. Sure, people argue about trivia and use their mobile devices to look up things, but it’s clear that the majority of commercial queries on smartphones will have local search intent.

Smartphones and tablets are flying out the factory doors and into the consumers’ hands in the U.S. and internationally; and they all require data plans, meaning they are the beginnings of an always-on Internet experience. However, before you jump into marketing to mobile users, there are some things you should consider beyond the fact that mobile users are likely to engage with search using a different keyword set.

Mobile searchers don’t transact online as frequently as desktop searchers do. So, whether you’re an online retailer or looking to generate leads, you’ll likely notice a drop in conversion rates with mobile marketing, with the possible exception of tablet devices such as Apple’s iPad. Tablet devices have larger screens and therefore the “friction” of getting out your credit card and entering it in to transact or even to fill out a lead form relating to an area of interest is lower than for smartphones. The usage case is also different. An iPhone, Windows, or Android-powered smartphone device is on hand in the street, in restaurants, and pretty much everywhere. While tablets are highly mobile and permanently connected to “the net,” most people don’t carry tablets with them everywhere. The result is a mix of search queries and behaviors which differ between small-screen mobile devices and large-screen mobile devices.

If you want to dive into mobile search marketing, make sure you do the following:

Get your site mobile-friendly. If it’s WAP-capable, then consider running a campaign that targets WAP devices and doing the appropriate keyword research. If you aren’t WAP-capable, then you still may want to view your site in a mobile browser just to make sure it’s usable or custom serve mobile pages based on the browser being used.

Consider modifying both your expectations of success and your specific success metrics for your mobile campaign. Cookie synchronization between the mobile devices and desktop devices for the purposes of tracking user behavior is a challenge. Ubiquitous log-ins (like a Google account or a Windows Live ID) may eventually form a bridge allowing for tracking across multiple screens (assuming the privacy issues are addressed), but for now, the lower transaction and conversion numbers mean we may want to modify our success metrics to include:

  • Page views per visit (stickiness). On a mobile device, anyone who doesn’t hit the back button clearly has some interest in what you have to say.
  • Send customers to your stores, your channel, or send them home. Perhaps you help them send themselves an e-mail allowing them to start where they left off in their mobile browsing experience.
  • Simple registrations. How much information do you really need to start a dialog? Should you consider a Facebook Connect option, e-mail only, or opt-in for SMS/text alerts?
  • Get them to tweet. OK, not that many of the general populace tweet yet, but smartphone users and iPad owners probably index quite highly.
  • App download. Do you have an app that you want downloaded? Should you have one?

Perhaps you should consider giving your mobile campaign different ad creative. People have different needs when they are on a mobile device and may respond to different messaging.

You should take a look now at your AdWords settings to determine if you are already opted in to mobile search traffic. I’ve seen a lot of accounts where the advertiser is already opted in and didn’t take into account the fact that the 4 to 10 percent of mobile search traffic with lower conversion rate would reduce ROI or, even more importantly, hamper the ability to bid higher on the campaign as a whole. If you are opted in but still want mobile traffic, I’d highly recommend that you clone one of your important campaigns and relaunch it mobile-only with different creative, different landing pages, and different bids.

Every year since 1995 has supposedly been the “Year of Mobile.” Perhaps 2011 will actually be the year that mobile helps you achieve your marketing objectives.

Related reading

Screenshot shows a Google search for outdoor grills, the shopping ads shows images with “in store” showing the product is available nearby.