Has Google jumped the gun on mobile?

Edit: Published in May 2015. 

“Make your website mobile friendly or we’re not going to show it when someone uses a mobile phone to search the internet." - Google, April 2015.

More than half of all internet activity happens on mobile phones. But does the important half of internet activity happen on mobile phones?

You don’t wander into an architects office and see her looking up insulation specifications on her iPhone. The maintenance foreman doesn't order a new distribution board on his Samsung.

Our architect might use her phone to clear her inbox on the train home. The foreman might update his status on his phone at lunchtime but they're still using their computers for most of the day.

In my context the important half of the internet is people looking for stuff my clients sell. I wanted to know how much of that was happening on mobile phones?

I’m lucky enough to have access to loads of data. We’ve found more than 600 000 sales prospects across a wide range of industries. Almost every one of those 600 000 people started out searching Google for something they wanted to buy. We know what they looked for, what advert they clicked and what they did once they landed on the website. Most of my clients get a constant flow of one or two new sales enquiries every day. That works out to a couple of hundred potential new customers every year. Enough for comfortable stable growth.

Here are the numbers from some typical AdWords campaigns we manage. These are for the 30 days ending mid May 2015.

Hospitality industry selling to businesses.

  • 5761 people were searching Google using their computer when they saw one of our adverts. 87 of them made an enquiry via the website.
  • 2416 people were searching Google using their mobile when they saw one of our adverts. 32 of them made an enquiry via the website.
  • 70% of the searchers were on computer, 30% on mobile.
  • 73% of the enquiries were made on computer, 27% on mobile.
  • On computer one enquiry was made for every 66 searches, on mobile it was one enquiry for every 75 searches.
Engineering industry selling to businesses and government.
  • 8705 people were searching Google using their computer when they saw one of our adverts. 34 of them made an enquiry via the website.
  • 1864 people were searching Google using their mobile when they saw one of our adverts. 8 of them made an enquiry via the website.
  • 82% of the searchers were on computer, 18% on mobile.
  • 81% of the enquiries were made on computer, 19% on mobile.
  • On computer one enquiry was made for every 256 searches, on mobile it was one enquiry for every 233 searches.
Computer hardware selling to businesses and consumers.
  • 3735 people were searching Google using their computer when they saw one of our adverts. 90 of them made an enquiry via the website.
  • 463 people were searching Google using their mobile when they saw one of our adverts. 8 of them made an enquiry via the website.
  • 89% of the searchers were on computer, 11% on mobile.
  • 92% of the enquiries were made on computer, 8% on mobile.
  • On computer one enquiry was made for every 42 searches, on mobile it was one enquiry for every 58 searches.
Tourism, selling to consumers.
  • 3002 people were searching Google using their computer when they saw one of our adverts. 9 of them made an enquiry via the website.
  • 2535 people were searching Google using their mobile when they saw one of our adverts. 20 of them made an enquiry via the website.
  • 54% of the searchers were on computer, 46% on mobile.
  • 31% of the enquiries were made on computer, 69% on mobile.
  • On computer one enquiry was made for every 333 searches, on mobile it was one enquiry for every 127 searches.
Tourism, selling to consumers.
  • 5182 people were searching Google using their computer when they saw one of our adverts. 22 of them made an enquiry via the website.
  • 1471 people were searching Google using their mobile when they saw one of our adverts. 13 of them made an enquiry via the website.
  • 79% of the searchers were on computer, 21% on mobile.
  • 63% of the enquiries were made on computer, 37% on mobile.
  • On computer one enquiry was made for every 236 searches, on mobile it was one enquiry for every 113 searches.
Home improvement selling to consumers.
  • 1648 people were searching Google using their computer when they saw one of our adverts. 28 of them made an enquiry via the website.
  • 867 people were searching Google using their mobile when they saw one of our adverts. 5 of them made an enquiry via the website.
  • 65% of the searchers were on computer, 35% on mobile.
  • 85% of the enquiries were made on computer, 15% on mobile.
  • On computer one enquiry was made for every 59 searches, on mobile it was one enquiry for every 173 searches.
Automotive industry selling to consumers.
  • 6404 people were searching Google using their computer when they saw one of our adverts. 59 of them made an enquiry via the website.
  • 6741 people were searching Google using their mobile when they saw one of our adverts. 69 of them made an enquiry via the website.
  • 48% of the searchers were on computer, 52% on mobile.
  • 46% of the enquiries were made on computer, 54% on mobile.
  • On computer one enquiry was made for every 108 searches, on mobile it was one enquiry for every 98 searches.
For most of my clients the important half of the internet still happens on computers.

Tourism campaigns are the exception because people travel with their phones.

Knowing which device is most popular helps us get the best possible value for their advertising budgets. We adjust the way we manage the campaign to favour the more important device. I won’t bore you with the details, most of it is common sense. For instance if most people searching on mobile phones visit the site but don’t make an enquiry we aim more of the budget at people searching on their computers. But if more people are using mobile phones we make the website easier for them to use: shorter forms, click-to call phone numbers etc.

You can see the split between computers and mobiles in your own AdWords campaigns. Instructions are here.

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