I love this chart from yesterday’s Google event to announce Instant Pages, a new feature that preloads the first result in order to serve it instantly. My interest was immediately draw from the announcement itself to the promise of Google’s mobile search trends.
Mobile search is still young, but it’s growing at a rate consistent with desktop searches in the olden days. At least on Google.
The red line is mobile, and it’s ramping much more quickly than desktop search did. It’s unclear what volume of searches we’re talking about here. I suppose we’re meant to assume that the X axis is consistently labeled so that we’re seeing similar volumes, not just a similar trend line shape.
Once upon a time when desktop search was young, Google wasn’t the ubiquitous brand name it is now, and frankly there just wasn’t as much demand for instant knowledge powered by web search. Remember when you had a phone book and used it for something more than … well … filling your recycling bin? Today we all know Google, and we all want answers instantly. Search is the fastest way to fill that insatiable need to know. Mobile search is the always-available, in-your-pocket-or-purse, have-an-itch-and-scratch-it tool.
As more people trade in their feature phones for smartphones, mobile search will explode much faster than desktop search did. More people have phones, more people have their phones on and on them, and mobile feeds the instant impulse. Not only will the numbers of people who can access mobile search ramp more quickly than the number of people who had access to desktop computers, the mobile platform is more prone to an elevated number of searches per person.
It’s a fantastically exciting time for online marketers staring at the evolution of search from desktop to desktop and mobile. I wrote an article yesterday for Practical Ecommerce entitled: “Google Says Smartphone Sites Aren’t Mobile.” It’s highly unlikely that the smartphone version of a site will rank well in a search from a smartphone. Google prefers the desktop version with its juicy links and older age, etc. From an SEO standpoint, serving mobile searchers really boils down to the strength of your desktop site and the tactics you use to direct smartphone searchers to smartphone content. As silly as I personally think this is, and as inconsistent with Google’s stated goal of serving the right content to the right users, it’s reality. I’ll be very interested to see if and how Google adapts to serve the right version of mobile-oriented content to mobile searchers as the numbers of mobile searchers increases.