Mobile Search Overtakes Desktop

by Jessica Ramesh FSE Online Ltd
Danielle Haley

Google has announced that it now handles more searches from smartphones than desktop computers. Danielle Haley at FSE Online considers the challenges and opportunities of mobile search and looks at the impact of adblocking

Amit Singhal, Google’s Senior Vice-President of Search, announced the latest search figures at the Code Mobile Conference in California. In the summer of 2015 Google saw more searches on mobile devices than on desktop.

Over 100 Billion Mobile Searches

Google has not disclosed exactly how many searches were made on each platform, but they did say that more than 100 billion searches are made each month on both mobile and desktop. These figures do not include tablets, only smartphones. So, in reality, mobile search volumes are probably even more significant than the latest figures suggest.

However, Ben Bajarin, analyst at Creative Strategies, speaking to the FT, is concerned that Google has not experienced a significant growth in search volume over the last year. The main concern is that Google may have reached its peak audience and that people moving to mobile, a less lucrative platform, means Google may experience a sharp decline in profits over the next few years.

Mobile, Mobile, Mobile

However, this is certainly not deterring Google. Amit Singhal said: “We care about three important things: mobile, mobile and mobile.” Many of the changes that Google has made in the last few years has been to improve the user experience on mobile devices.

Google has introduced algorithm changes that highlight when a website works well on mobile, PageRank is positively affected by improved site loading times, and Google now displays mobile friendly content, such as content from Android and iPhone apps, within its search result pages.

There is no doubt that Google considers the future of the Internet to be centred on mobile, and no doubt later, wearable tech, such as smartwatches and smartglasses.

The Mobile Challenge

While the popularity of mobiles is providing many opportunities, it is also providing new challenges for Google. Google has built its empire on an advertising revenue model, but many people are choosing to turn off mobile adverts with the use of apps such as Adblock.

These apps allow users to remove adverts from websites, Google search results, and to some extent, apps. Adblock is available on both Android and iPhone. The latest figures from the company suggest that around 40 million people have already installed ad blocking software. This has affected Google’s revenue already, with a loss of around $6 billion being attributed to the use of ad blocking software.

Desktop PC users always used to accept adverts, but mobile users are proving to be less patient. Because of the popularity of video adverts especially, many people are discovering that adverts on websites and apps are using up much of their valuable bandwidth, as well as making websites and apps load much more slowly. Some apps are so ad-heavy that mobile batteries run down faster after prolonged use. Google has several major challenges ahead – it needs to find new ways to deliver engaging and user-friendly adverts on mobile devices.

From a business perspective, this news of the growth of mobile is a reminder to ensure that websites are mobile-friendly and SEO campaigns are geared towards the mobile user. Mobile, and specifically local search, is playing a much larger role in driving new customers, and businesses that have not already updated their websites and ecommerce checkouts are already suffering from reduced sales.

Mobile is the future, and the future is here already. If you have not already made your business mobile-friendly, now is the time to start.