Back in March 2014, a study conducted by online advertising platform Marin Software revealed that more than 50% of all paid search links would arrive from mobile devices by the end of December, 2015. Jessica Lee wrote that cost per click (CPC) on mobile devices increased at an incredible rate, when compared with CPC on desktops in 2013.

Moreover, tablet CPCs outranked desktop CPCs. A lot of naysayers had predicted that tablets would be irrelevant. Throughout 2014, we have only seen people purchasing more tablets and cellphones with which most people access the Internet today. In fact, a majority of search queries come from mobile devices, as opposed to desktops. This fundamental change in the way people access the Internet has contributed to a paradigm shift within SEO circles.

Today, SEO professionals understand that the money is in mobile devices. People simply do not use computers anymore, especially, in developing countries where large computers are more expensive and unaffordable for a large number of people. Thus, mobile devices have given the power of using Internet to many people who, otherwise, would not be privileged enough to be online.

It is not just the poor who access the Internet using mobile devices. Most affluent people use mobile devices to conduct searches, look for products and also to simply browse. This change in user habits is mostly because of increased screen sizes of mobile devices. In this article, let us take a look at how mobile devices are driving the future of search.

What is the status of mobile Internet usage today?

Today, it is no longer relevant to describe how important mobile devices are and why we need to focus our SEO strategies on mobile devices. What is important is to understand the statistics so that we are in a position to create targeted search campaigns, which help us to create SEO strategies that are effective and useful.

Danyl Bosomworth wrote that a whopping 80% of people used smartphones to search the Internet, whereas, another 47% of those interviewed used tablets as well. 91% of those interviewed still used a PC or a laptop to search the Internet. What this really tells us is, mobile devices cannot be ignored anymore. They are an important part of the search ecosystem and it is crucial to understand how people use their mobile devices when they search so that we can build better websites and come up with more targeted SEO campaigns.

Searching begins on search engines but mobile apps are not far behind

Danyl also wrote that 48% of them start searching on search engines. Another 33% start searching on branded websites, whereas, 26% of those interviewed searched on branded apps. This piece of data gives us a very valuable piece of information. People have already begun to use branded applications to search for products. For instance, people would download Macy’s application to check which products are available because they trust Macy to sell the best.

Likewise, it is becoming increasingly clear that people now use applications to search for not only products but also trivia, information, news and many other things. We have already moved towards an app-centric world, where the browser is slowly losing its significance. This is not really a bad thing to happen. It is just that we need to get used to the new way of browsing and searching for information.

The future is the mobile app

Mobile apps are going to get bigger this year and this will partly be the reason why it is important to focus our SEO strategies on optimizing applications for search. This will help us to guide users to arrive at information that they want and also help clients in increasing sales. Applications will continue to take precedence over websites in the near future.

He also continued to write that 89% of time spent on media by users was through mobile apps. People spent only 11% of their time viewing media on mobile browsers. This leads us to believe that if people are going to look for images or videos on their mobile devices, it is mostly through applications. If you have an e-commerce store, it makes more sense to make it app-friendly, rather than having a completely new mobile website. This also brings us to the topic of responsive websites.

Responsive web design for better mobile search

With mobile devices coming in different screen sizes, designers need to focus on various screen resolutions. This impacts the way online search takes place. If websites are not optimized for a mobile experience, they will receive very few visitors and search traffic. Responsive design ensures that a website looks good on all screen sizes, thereby, enhancing the stickiness of a website. Responsive design is also SEO-friendly and is a great method to ensure that mobile websites are SEO-friendly too. It also removes the need to design separate mobile websites.

Local search and geo-location data

If you have ever used one of those taxi-hailing applications, you will know the importance of geo-location data. Dating applications have mushroomed over recent years, thanks to GPS and the ability to locate like-minded people nearby. Searching on mobile phones is more local than ever. In fact, local search is the singular most unique feature of mobile search.

Businesses can now optimize their physical stores to appear in the search results of mobile users who are in the vicinity. If you run a restaurant that sells Thai food and someone who likes Thai food is nearby, you will probably end up in the search results. All that you need to do is optimize your store locator pages in order to help the searcher locate you.

GPS has, in fact, changed the way we search completely. Searching has truly gone local, thanks to geo-location information. One does not need to describe one’s physical presence in detail. Turning on the GPS needs to be enough to help customers locate your office or store. Moreover, a mobile user’s geo-location data gives you valuable insights about where a person is looking for your products or services from. That alone can be an important insight.

Why is mobile search different?

There are a number of reasons why mobile search is different. First of all, they come in different screen sizes and the way we interact with mobile devices is significantly different from the way we interact on a desktop or a laptop, with a website of course.

To add to this, mobile devices are frequently used to access the Internet with the help of dedicated applications, more than the mobile browser. This gives us a very important clue – people are losing interest in cumbersome mobile browsers of the past. It also suggests that we do not have to design separate mobile websites anymore.

Responsive design needs to take care of all our problems when it comes to mobile devices. Next comes the issue of actually designing an application or a responsive website in such a way that it is easy for users to browse and access information. A badly designed application will drive away users from searching for information. This presents us with missed opportunities and lost sales.

Thus, it is important to understand how a mobile device is used in order to boost searches. Last but not the least, mobile devices come with geo-location details. This helps both the user and the app administrator with valuable information. All these factors make mobile search very different from traditional searching on desktops or laptops.

What does the future hold for searching on mobile devices?

In the near future, we will likely see an explosion of mobile devices, especially, in emerging economies. This will boost searches from mobile devices tremendously. Web designers, SEO professionals, content writers and others will have to undergo a paradigm shift & embrace mobile as the new future of online searches.

SEO will squarely depend on the kind of application that is being used and how good its user interface is. Search related analytics will focus more on geo-location data and the kind of mobile device that a visitor uses to access the Internet. Armed with all this information, we can create better websites, applications and SEO strategies to ensure success.

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