In 2010, Google projected that searches from mobile devices would comprise 70% of all search by 2015. While that milestone hasn’t yet been reached, Google announced yesterday (May 6) that mobile search has officially taken over desktop search in 10 countries, including the United States and Japan.
To us at Imagine That, this comes as no surprise. We have been moving our clients towards the mobile web since the end of 2012 when we read the writing on the wall – the world is going mobile. So what is a “mobile device” according to Google? It’s important to understand Google’s definition. Many people think of tablets as a “mobile device” because, well, it’s mobile. I can sit on my couch and browse my Facebook newsfeed while watching the nightly news (that’s not easy to do with a desktop).
However, Google classifies tablets as desktops, so when Google claims that mobile search has overtaken desktop search, Google is talking about search done on smart phones. Google did report that the search count included search from mobile browsers and the company’s mobile search apps.
Okay, so what? Why should I be concerned about mobile search overtaking desktop search? Well, as a consumer, it means you can expect more of your favorite websites to become mobile-friendly and easy to use. It means you can raise your standards as in terms of what you expect from the mobile Web experience. If you are a business owner however, the issue is a bit more critical; for you, not having a mobile friendly website is going to cost you.
First, your non-mobile site will be penalized in mobile search results, meaning loss of exposure and traffic. Second, users expect your website to work on their smartphones. As more website go mobile, the expectations will rise. Already, 61% of users click out of a website that forces them to pinch and squint to see the content – a number we expect to grow. A third consequence of not being mobile friendly is loss of business to your competitors and a shift in brand loyalty.
For mountain resort communities, I believe the impact of Google’s new mobile algorithm will be accentuated by our tourism industry’s reliance on mobile search. Millions of people visit our area each year and our local economies are dependent on our out-of-town guests. When the tourists in Summit County look for things to do and places to eat – they’re not looking on their Dell Inspiron; they’re on their iPhone 6! The competition for all those eyeballs on mobile devices is fierce, and if your business isn’t positioning well in mobile search results, you’ve lost revenue.
Not only are small businesses with non-mobile friendly websites missing out on customers, they are missing out on awesome marketing opportunities to make it easy for their mobile consumers to promote the small business’s brand. Think of all those missed duck-faced selfies not being shot at your restaurant and shared all over social media. As more and more of your competitors join the mobile-friendly ranks (and I would argue your most fierce competitors are already there), the more your non-mobile website slips into obscurity in mobile search.