Late in 2015, Google confirmed what many of us had already suspected: mobile search had officially surpassed desktop worldwide.
Smartphones and tablets have completely disrupted and forever altered what was once a fairly linear buyer’s journey. These days, a consumer might drop into your funnel at any point, from any channel, and it might be after an unknown number of touch points across platforms and devices that you didn’t see happening.
They’re reading reviews, are exposed to organic and paid social, are searching for nearby answers for their immediate needs and more. Increasingly, consumers are doing all of these things from a mobile device.
Recent research at BrightEdge (my company) shows that 57 percent of all online traffic now comes from mobile and tablet. Pair this consumer insight with the knowledge that Google’s mobile-first algorithm is coming, and we marketers have some work to do.
In this column, I’ll share the results of our recent Google SERPs Mobile vs. Desktop research, and you’ll learn how to Google-proof your SEO and content marketing strategies to prepare for what’s next.
Why mobile matters
As the shift to mobile has picked up speed, we’ve discovered some new ways to determine what that actually means in terms of real, measurable impact on businesses.
One such insight gleaned from our recent research helps us assess the extent to which mobile matters to Google. We’ve been tracking Google’s experimentation with the mobile-first index since it was announced in 2016, and what we learned might surprise you.
We tracked SERP listing data for nearly 25 million keywords, and what we discovered is that 79 percent of listings have a different rank on mobile and desktop devices. For listings in positions 1-20, 47 percent had mobile and desktop rankings that were not the same.
Furthermore, we found that 35 percent of the time, the top-ranking URL of a domain for a given query is different on desktop than on mobile.
Preparing for mobile-first
Back in 2016, Google first announced their development of a mobile-first algorithm, a direct response to the rising use of mobile across its consumer base. Now, the search giant has begun experimenting with this new algorithm — a test that’s attracted the attention of marketers across all sectors.
It’s impossible to estimate the impact of such an algorithm, yet it’s safe to say you need to start preparing now. Brands that are still looking at their marketing strategy through a desktop view in a mobile-first world are likely to misunderstand the opportunities and threats affecting them (most likely on the mobile side, and in their largest channel — organic search — which accounts for 51 percent of traffic, on average).
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