Mobile searches on Google now represent about 57% of all search traffic, as mobile web site traffic is now clearly outpacing traditional desktop traffic, according to a new study from content performance marketing company BrightEdge.
The study also found that 79% of all searches were different across mobile and desktop, suggesting a significant shift to the mobile-first search index Google announced last year. BrightEdge said its research confirmed the emergence of two separate search indexes –– one for desktop and one for mobile –– with 47% of keywords in positions 1–20 ranked differently on mobile and desktop search engine results pages.
Additionally, the study found that the first page that ranks for a domain on a search query is different on mobile and desktop search engine results pages on about 35% of searches.
The ultimate takeaway from this study goes a little something like this: Mobile is happening, people. Get with the program.
We have been hearing about the impact of mobile search for a while now, so this study should not come as a complete surprise to retailers. There is more detail, of course, to the lessons that can be learned from this study, but a big part of it is that BrightEdge is presenting some evidence that mobile search traffic represents the majority of search traffic by a margin — 14% — that is only going to grow. Well, that and the notion that a mobile-first search index has some unique value.
The frequency with which search results come out differently for mobile and desktop-initiated Google searches means that retailers need to have search engine optimization, content and marketing strategies that reflect those differences.
Some retailers and brands may already understand this. In the study, BrightEdge notes that Carlos Spallarossa, director of SEO at L'Oréal, is pushing for a mobile-first perspective. "We are developing content with a mobile-first perspective to connect with our users with info, use advice, and reviews — especially when they are near a store where they can easily purchase,” he said, according to the study.
Others may not be so far along in understanding it, and BrightEdge has a few suggestions about how to change up their approaches. Designing and optimizing websites for speed and mobile-friendliness is a start, but among other suggestions listed in the study, retailers and brands need to understand different online consumer intent signals across desktop and mobile devices. Also, producing separate mobile and desktop content that resonates on multiple device types is a good idea. BrightEdge also advises tracking, comparing and reporting mobile and desktop share of traffic continuously, as well as tracking organic search rank for mobile and desktop separately.
Mobile commerce may have once seemed to be nothing more than a sub-set of the broader e-commerce universe, but now it's becoming clear that mobile is charting its own unique territory.