There is no doubt that the search behaviour of consumers is changing rapidly. Consumers are increasingly using their mobile and Google recently announced that more than half of all searches in the US and UK happens on mobile devices.
Further to this, Google stated at the Google Analytics summit held in June this year that consumers have more sessions but spend less time on site. This means that before consumers make a purchase they’re likely to visit a website multiple times on different devices, but spend less time on site each time they visit.
Consumers increasingly use mobile search to find quick answers for the hundreds of micro-moments they have each day. Research from Google indicated 4 types of micro moments:
This research revealed that 66% of smartphone users turn to their phones to look up something they saw in a TV commercial – and 82% of smartphone users use a search engine when looking for a local business.
The Mobile Update
As a result of this shift in search behaviour, Google implemented a number of changes to force businesses and webmasters to recognise and adapt to the changes in mobile search.
Firstly, in November 2014 Google implemented the ‘Mobile-friendly’ label in the search engine result page (SERP). This label was implemented to indicate which websites were ready for mobile and didn’t influence rankings.
The most significant change was the mobile update (implemented on the 21st of April 2015) which promised to reward mobile friendly pages and indexed mobile apps with better rankings in organic search.
This update was different from any other Google update, in that this time Google announced the update before it was rolled out. Therefore, webmasters had time to prepare and were not surprised by any sudden changes.
The impact of this announcement meant that businesses updated their site to ensure they were not adversely affected. A study from MOZ revealed that the day after the mobile update was rolled out, 72.3% of the URLs they tracked were already mobile-friendly.
The effect of the mobile update was less significant than many expected, and a study from Searchmetrics revealed that on average a non-mobile friendly website saw a decrease in rankings of 0.21 on average.
An internal analysis of our clients, comparing the three months before and after the update, showed that organic mobile traffic grew by 14.8%, while organic desktop traffic only grew by 6%. The data also revealed that in July on average mobile traffic accounted for 40.6% of total organic traffic.
The Future of Mobile
Despite the mobile update not having such a significant effect; Reprise expects more mobile updates to be rolled out in the future, as Google and consumers lean more and more towards mobile.
Google hasn’t announced anything yet, but many think that one of the factors that most certainly will be in one of the upcoming mobile updates is mobile page speed. A low page speed leads to a higher bounce rate and has a negative influence on the user experience.
Another factor that is becoming increasingly important is the indexation of apps in mobile search. Search engine result pages now include results for iOS apps where previously it was just Android. Inclusive, results were previously included for apps that users already had installed on their phone whereas now Google is displaying results to help users discover new apps.
The tremendous growth in apps and particularly, their ability to enhance the user experience is the main focus for Google including them in their index. Google is able to drive the usage of apps which will allow them to sell more ads. Additionally, analytics has been set up to easily measure app activity and Reprise expects apps to have more importance for marketers in the near future.
What Does This Mean?
The most important lesson we can take from the shift in search behaviour and the mobile update is that mobile marketing is imperative to the success of any business.
Consumers increasingly expect brands to immediately deliver exactly what they are looking for when they are looking. They want things right, and they want things right away.
In order to be able to fulfill these expectations as a business, you should have a website that is optimised for mobile and content that is able to deliver.
Things You Can Do Now
Firstly, analyse and improve the page speed of your website using the page speed tool developed by Google. Run a test for your website, see where you can improve and be prepared for upcoming mobile updates.
Secondly, don’t ignore your mobile customers as on average they account for more than 40% of your visitors. Identify, deliver, and measure moments of intent, ensuring that your content is optimised appropriately. Keep testing what kind of content works for your business.
Finally, if you have a business app get it indexed by Google. You’ll drive more usage of you app through Google if it’s indexed leading to a stronger presence in mobile search.