A couple years ago, agencies, consultants and analysts everywhere were prepping clients for the upcoming day when mobile usage became a significant element in web usability and search. Not only is that day here, but for some websites it arrived long ago. In fact, recent reports have stated that mobile internet usage is poised to overtake desktop as early as 2014.
With the surge of mobile internet usage over the past few years has naturally come exponential growth in mobile search. It’s certainly no surprise that mobile users typically search differently than desktop, but valuable data is surfacing that may leave many unprepared companies struggling to get found and keep users from bouncing off their unoptimized sites.
The latest data comes directly from Google, with their Mobile Search Moments: Understanding How Mobile Drives Conversions data released as part of an infographic last week.
One of the biggest takeaways from these statistics is that mobile searchers, in addition to being on-the-go, are ready to act, with 3 out of 4 mobile searches triggering some sort of follow-up action.
This transition to mobile has made the need for mobile optimized sites more important than ever before. Rather than the typical separate site, subdomain approach, the best approach is responsive design. For those that are unfamiliar with responsive design, it basically means that the elements on your page shift and adjust to your screen size. At a certain screen size, your navigation menu will completely change into a mobile-friendly drop-down menu.
If you’re curious to see a responsive design site in action, head over to Smashing Magazine’s site on your desktop browser. Now, play with the size of your browser window and notice the different layouts at desktop size, tablet size and smartphone size.
So, other than making your site look good on mobile devices, what does responsive design have to do with mobile search? Well, the other benefit of responsive design is that you maintain a single site. When you change the content on a page, it changes the content on the desktop, tablet and smartphone version of the page because they are one in the same.
This means that all of the on-page relevance and links you build to a single page now benefit you in mobile search as well, instead of trying to build links to get your mobile site to rank.
Lastly, mobile-friendly sites are what searches have come to expect. Study your analytics. What percentage of your visitors are from mobile devices? How does that compare to last year? What is the engagement (bounce rate, average time on site, pages per visit, etc.) of your mobile visitors vs. desktop users?
These trends are almost guaranteed to continue. Smartphones are getting more advanced, more people are getting them, and people are essentially carrying your website in their pockets. The question is: when they search for you, are you ready to be found?