It seems that most small businesses are recognizing the power of online advertising. It has a lot of advantages over more traditional routes, not least of which is the cost. And Google provides a very easy-to-understand platform for creating and managing ads online. They even offer training — some of which is available in a classroom setting in major cities — for free.

This is great news for the small business owner who wants to get a broader reach for his or her products and services. Online ads can certainly be effective; the statistics prove this.

However, and you knew there was going to be a catch to all this good news, an increasing number of Internet searches are being conducted on a mobile device. The mobile retail market is predicted to exceed $12 billion by 2014 (Source: Juniper Research, 2010). This has huge implications for most small businesses.

Mobile users tend to be open to both advertising and making purchases from their mobile device. Forty-nine percent of consumers who use the mobile web at least once a week made a purchase on their mobile device in the past six months (Source: ROI Research Inc., 2011). That’s an incredibly high number, and should definitely encourage small business owners to expand their advertising portfolio into the mobile arena as well.

Among smartphone owners, 48% prefer to visit a retailer’s mobile website (Source: InsightExpress, 2010). That’s where things start to go bad.

Why? Because 79% of large online advertisers still do not have a mobile optimized site (Source: Google/Kelsey, 2010). That’s pretty shocking. If you are advertising online and don’t have a mobile optimized website, you are throwing away money and opportunity. Why add an unnecessary barrier to your small business success?

Think about it, though. There is nothing worse than visiting a website and having to drag the screen around on your mobile device, zoom in to find the buttons, and then try and aim just right with your stubby fingertips to click them.

If you are advertising online, your site must be mobile-friendly. Before you spend another dime on online advertising, find a company that can optimize your website for the mobile web so users can navigate it and make purchases easily.

And make sure you test it on numerous devices — iPhone, iPad, Android Phone, Android Tablet, WEBOs, etc. This IS a worthwhile investment. You will be able to increase the return you get on your advertising dollars if you simply take mobile users into account.