In April 2015, Google introduced Mobilegeddon, in which websites adhering to a mobile first design are now being rewarded by Google. This implies that businesses that don’t make their websites mobile friendly are set to lose out in the search engine listings and their rankings are set to drop. All this now makes sense since new data has recently been released in the public domain. Ever since last year, we have heard informal statements from several Google employees that mobile search queries would probably overtake desktop queries sometime this year. Now Google has officially confirmed these statements.
Google said that more Google searches were taking place on mobile devices than on desktops in 10 countries including the US and Japan. The company declined to elaborate further on what the other countries were, what the time frame of this change is or what the relative volumes of PC and mobile search queries are for now. Google did elaborate that mobile queries include mobile browser based searches and those coming from mobile search apps of Google. However, the company didn’t break down the relative shares of each one of the search categories. It should be noted here that Google groups tablets with desktops. So the quantum of search just includes smartphones and does not include tablets.
Jerry Dischler, Vice President of Product Management for AdWords elaborate to the Search Engine Land website that “We’ve hit an inflection point where more Google searches are taking place in mobile than desktop in 10 countries, including US and Japan. We think it’s a real turning point in digital adverting and we have been investing in mobile-focused initiatives.”
“The purchase funnel is officially dead. It’s being replaced by short bursts of activity that we’ve been referring to as micro-moments,” said Dischler, adding that relevancy now triumphs over brand loyalty as the driver for users’ mobile behaviors, and the challenge for marketers is to be there in those micro-moments no matter what device users are on.
If all these changes and events are put in context, then the story of challenges emerge that Google is facing on the mobile search front. There are lots of startups that are flushed with Venture Capital funding and are challenging Google in the arena of mobile search where competition is heating up. Google wants to tweak the mobile search business or even radically change its strategy in such a manner that it continues to maintain its dominance as it has over the desktop search. But the challengers are many. As soon as interface and the platform changes, the entire mobile search business pie is up for grabs. And people aren’t going to give way to Google dominance even in this field so easily. Behind the new startups is the conviction that people use mobile phones so differently than they do desktop and laptop computers that the search business is ripe for an overhaul.
The most obvious difference with mobile is that people have their phones with them all the time, giving search companies a lot of contextual clues like location, for what their customers may want. Thus, mobile also has several special challenges for an entrenched player like Google. With its wide range of apps and competing operating systems, mobile is a highly fragmented universe, making it harder for one single company to index all of the most relevant information like the way Google has done for the desktop web. According to eMarketer, smartphone users in the US are projected to spend 81 percent of their time in mobile applications this year, and 19 percent on the web. This opens up wide ranging opportunities for the mobile segment since the situation is evolving rapidly and new vistas are opening up every day.
It is not that Google is averse to challenges to its dominance on the mobile search front. Besides the mobilegeddon update, the company’s biggest bets have been a voice searching tool, along with Google Now, an application that tries to predict what users are looking for by showing a stack of cards with timely information, using clues such as upcoming events in the user’s emails or recent activities on the mobile apps and the web.
Whatever the situation maybe, it is clear that the mobile search business is up for grabs and Google and other entrenched players are not going to give up their dominance so easily. Let us hope that all this entails best for the users, who are likely to get more interactive tools for search and a better user experience that gives them more value for their search. Mobilegeddon is just one step in that direction and is a shot fired by Google. We must wait and watch to see how the other players and the startup competitors of Google will react.