Google: Mobile Searches Officially Surpass Desktop Searches Worldwide

The milestone comes on the heels of other mobile search moves, including an indexing of app content into Google’s mobile search results.

Google has been the top name that people associate with search for many years now, so when Amit Singhal, the company’s SVP of search, said that this summer, queries on mobile officially exceeded those made on desktop worldwide, it represented a significant milestone for how users look and find places and things online.

Singhal was referring to any device with a screen less than 6 inches, meaning the milestone only applies to mobile and doesn’t factor in tablets or other portable devices. Mobile alone accounted for over 100 billion searches per month.

While this is great news for all business that use mobile to drive traffic, it could be particularly helpful for SMBs, said Local SEO Guide’s Andrew Shotland.

“We have been studying this trend for several years now and it’s not just small local businesses that need to figure out their mobile strategies – large multi-location businesses need to figure it out too,” Shotland told us.“For local businesses of all sizes, we think the best strategy in the near term is to get the basics of SEO right — so accessible, mobile-friendly websites, a focused content strategy, marketing programs that attract links and making sure your business data is correct and consistent throughout the web, particularly on Google My Business, and now throughout the app stores. Most of these businesses are so far from getting the basics right that it would be a mistake to try to push them towards the bleeding edge of mobile marketing. And getting these things right can yield fantastic results, even on mobile.”bio_singhal_full

Google has currently indexed over 100 billion links within apps, as the company attempts to bridge the browser/app world divide, Singhal told Re/code’s Kara Swisher. Currently, 40 percent of Android apps indexed appear on the first page of mobile Google search results.

“I love apps,” Singhal told Swisher. “Apps are fundamentally a far better way to render the same information than rendering on the web.”

Others have felt the same way towards the relative clunkiness of the mobile web compared to the sleek functionality of a mobile app. That said, Google’s primary focus remains on the browser, mobile as well as desktop. It simply realizes the challenges are greater when it comes to smartphones.

For instance, last week, the company unveiled the Accelerated Mobile Pages Project which uses uniform technical specifications and Google cache hosting to make the mobile web load faster and run smoother. Some see this as direct competition with Facebook’s Instant Articles, but with a focus on all web pages and not just news outlets.

Mobile search has become quite the competitive field. Many customers choose to skip a dedicated search engine altogether when searching for products to purchase and going straight to Amazon to find prices and compare products of the same category. Google has even expanded its mobile app search results to competitor Apple’s iOS9, though Google’s search deal with Apple is set to expire at the end of the year.

Some, like BIA/Kelsey, believe that the rise of mobile apps will lead to a decline of mobile search. Shotland said he believes otherwise.

“I still do a lot of searching on my phone and search is still one of the best ways to target people who are at the ‘bottom of the funnel’ because their intent is so clear,” Shotland said. “Mobile/social is well-suited for brand advertising — I would bet the majority of time spent on mobile devices and social nets is more ‘goofing around’ time than ‘looking for something’ time. So user intent is more like user intent for TV. That’s where brand messaging is likely the most effective. The ads are just trying to keep the brand in the user’s mind instead of trying to get them to click and buy which is where search ads excel.”

About The Author
Daniel Parisi Daniel Parisi @daniel_parisi_

Daniel Parisi is a New York City-based writer and recent graduate of the University of Maryland. Daniel specializes in coverage of mobile payments, loyalty programs, and the Internet of Things.