February 18, 2020
Back in 2015, Google officially announced that there were more searches being carried out on mobile than on desktop.
This was big news; it meant that, for the first time, the majority of people were picking up their smartphones when they fancied Googling something - rather than reaching for a desktop computer or laptop.
That was then, and this is now. Mobile internet use has grown a staggering 504% since 2011. And if you think about the way you use the internet, that’ll probably ring true; you’re far more likely to use your phone than anything else when browsing the web.
But, will mobile search completely take over in the 20s? And, if so, what does that mean for Google?
Ever heard of local search? Or local SEO? This is a trend in marketing that has grown in prominence thanks to the smartphone.
Local search simply refers to web searches that look for local businesses or ‘<insert name of service> near me’. They’re possible thanks to the built-in location services that modern smartphones have.
Put simply, your phone knows pretty much where you are all the time, and that means Google searches can offer far more relevant results based on your locality.
If mobile search becomes the default tool over the next ten years for everyone, local businesses will benefit handsomely - providing they put the effort into SEO.
You might think that the dominance of mobile search puts a huge question mark over the heads of desktop PCs and laptops.
Not quite. And, while the future of devices like that is questionable, they’re unlikely to go anywhere soon. In many professions, a laptop is still a far more productive device than a phone, and there are industries that still rely on extremely powerful desktop hardware.
You may well be searching for stuff on your phone more, but that computer in the office needn’t head for retirement just yet - and that means Google will still pay attention to the desktop-readiness of websites.
If you work in search engine optimisation you’ll already be aware that Google is rather strict about certain aspects of ranking.
With the continued dominance of mobile search, that’s only likely to get worse (or better, depending on your point of view).
Despite the power of modern mobile technology and the speeds we can gain from 4G (and 5G once it fully arrives!), websites need to be lithe and light on their feet if they’re to be looked at fondly by Google.
The more important mobile becomes, the more emphasis Google will place on page loading times, image sizes and the user journey. This will result in some pretty comprehensive changes needed for many long-standing websites.
Just as page speeds and image sizes will become more important as mobile search grows, so too will the use experience.
Using a website on a phone is very different to using it on a desktop computer or laptop, and web designers spend a significant amount of time these days on optimising the user journey for finger presses.
Google plays a lot of attention to the user friendliness of a website, and if mobile searches go beyond the 90% mark, you can expect them to pay even more attention to mobile website performance.
This too will require significant changes to be made to many websites. Ignore them, and the website owners will probably see significant drop-offs in traffic.
We’re a little way off total mobile dominance in search, but it will almost certainly happen within the next ten years.
It’s an exciting time, but if your website has been lagging behind in the mobile stakes, now is definitely the time to invest in its development.