Will 2014 be the Year Mobile Passes Desktop Search?

Dec 31, 2013

Over the last few years, there has been growing interest in the battle between mobile and desktop search. As far back as 2007, research and analytic companies have been analyzing the growing trends in mobile search. As society becomes increasingly more dependent mobile devices, so does the way the people search for the information they need. Some predictions have stated the 2014 may just be the year in which mobile search finally surpasses desktop. There are many reasons that this may be a very valid prediction, and there is actually some data to back it up, as well.

mobile search in 2014

A Mobile Society

At first, cell phones were used mainly to keep in touch in emergency situations. Now, they do just about everything except make your morning coffee. And with the way technology is progressing, there may soon be an app for that, too. Now far more than a way to communicate with people on the road, mobile phones have become a command center for most businesses and consumers. Add to that the growing popularity of tablets and other mobile instruments, “Google Glass” and it is very clear that our society is very mobile. The more people are on the road, the less time they have at home to search from their desktops. Additionally, the convenience of being able to search for just about anything from your mobile device means that people are far more likely to use their mobile devices instead of their desktop. The more mobile society becomes, the number of mobile searches will increase. This is one reason that mobile search is expected to continue to grow, as our society is continuing to become more mobile.

Mobile Optimized Search

As society becomes more mobile and mobile search increases in popularity, search engines and websites cater more to the mobile experience and users. It has been discovered in many studies that those who search on their mobile devices tend to purchase at a higher rate compared to desktop shoppers. For instance, if someone is searching for auto repair services in a specific city from their mobile device, it is likely that they need the service right away. Therefore, the likelihood that search will turn into a conversion, or sale, for the business they choose to visit is much higher than if they had been searching for that business on their desktop. Since search engine optimization is all about helping businesses cater to those who need their services and products, and helping those who search for products and services find what they are searching for or need, this information has resulted in a shift in the way that search engine algorithms are designed; Hummingbird update. Now, having a responsive and mobile search optimized version of your website is essential, whereas in years past it was simply a “nice to have”. Since mobile search is so convenient, and since websites are now catering to the mobile user, mobile search has increased.

The Data

All of this would just be speculation if there was not data to back it up. However, comScore recently came out with a study graphing mobile versus desktop search since 2007. In 2007, there were about 1.1 billion people using desktop search as opposed to just over 400 million people using mobile search. Desktop search since then has been more or less a straight line. Desktop uses increased ever so slightly, but mobile search has all but skyrocketed. In 2012, desktop search was sitting at around 1.5 billion users globally per year. In the same year, mobile search had already reached the 1.1 billion users that desktop had just five years previous. If the trend continued, 2013 should have seen about 50% of global users searching via mobile devices, and that ended up being the case. If this graph can be trusted, and it has been trustworthy so far, 2014 will be the year in which mobile search surpasses desktop search. What this means for search engine optimization, business owners, and consumers is yet to be seen. But it can be safely stated that changes are coming in the way people search in 2014.