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searches: mobile versus desktop

Google announced a tipping point in 2015: more people are now conducting internet searches on mobile devices than on desktops.

As the retail sector shifts on its axis towards what will become a predominantly virtual marketplace, marketers are investing significant sums in researching the impact of mobile-isation. A change in device inevitably shifts searcher/consumer behaviour, and the consequences make for interesting business reading, whatever device you’re reading from.

The research

In 2014, the digital marketing company Mediative used eye-tracking technologies and analytics to distinguish desktop and mobile search behaviour. What they discovered was that mobile devices, principally because of restricted screen size, encourage greater vertical eye movement and speedier scrolling.

As a result, searchers spend less time reading a number one search result, and more time checking out subsequent listings. There is a caveat however: researchers are likely to check out listings lower in the pecking order (second, third and fourth placers) but are unlikely to look any further than that; this is possibly because the mobile nature of the device encourages spontaneous, speedy search, whilst multi-tasking (walking, having lunch, a conversation), rather than more focused and comprehensive desktop searches.

The impact

Statistically these changing search habits manifest as follows: on a mobile device, a top listing will still receive more click activity than any other (at approximately 33%) Only 8% of listings below fourth ranking however will be accessed, as compared to double that figure on a desktop. Sponsored ads, again as a result of screen layout, will be clicked on mobile devices with about fifty percent more frequency than sponsored ads on desktops (21% to 14%).

The implications

It’s all very well having this awareness, but how can businesses use it to maximise searcher interaction? Clearly, placing above fourth on a mobile search is vital. To achieve this, important key words and text need to be prioritised within advertising text. Listings need to be eye-catching and relevant (it may be worth investing in Schema or similar tools to achieve this). Also, given the extra value of paid search on mobile devices, this route may be worth considering. As paid advertisements become more and more common, the efficacy of organic, unpaid listings is set to diminish, however professional the SEO strategies.

The rise of mobile search may present challenges for online marketers, but it also presents opportunities. Are you nervous, or are you excited?

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