An update on mobile vs. desktop use for searching online.
Desktop computers enjoy a nice legacy, a huge placeholder on the timeline of major influencers and tool upgrades for humanity. And it’s true, they still have important niches to fill and work to do. But the long-time upward trend of mobile device use during the last two decades continues to move upward, and that’s a big deal for business.
More than ever before, people are using mobile for online activity. StatCounter reports that in October 2020, worldwide desktop use still had less than 1% lead over mobile for online searching. However, that lead diminished, and by January 2021, mobile searches lead at 55% of all searches with a 10% lead over desktops. In August, mobile was ahead of desktop with 16% more use at 57% of all searches. In October, there was a slight change with mobile in the lead by 11% at 54% of all searches. Desktop still lags at 43% of searches.
In the U.S., things looked different. Desktop use was at 52% and mobile at 43% in October 2020. During the pandemic and until school doors opened in August, the two categories of screen sizes struggled for the lead, switching back and forth a few times until October. The latest data shows desktop searches once again leading, albeit with a smaller margin of only 4% more than mobile searches. The 2% overall reduction of desktop searches over the last 12 months shows mobile is winning the fight for dominance of online search in the U.S.
The food and beverage industry earn the highest mobile search rates.
Also important, mobile use varies across different industries. A pre-pandemic study reported by The Search Review showed that 72% of all searches for food or drink information used mobile devices.
The study covered 30 days and reviewed hundreds of millions of queries, including multiple devices and all searched engines. In contrast to the food industry, searches for banking information included only 39% with mobile devices. In other words, people use their devices at different times for different reasons. Since the pandemic, however, these numbers are likely higher since lockdown situations generated demand for access to banking, shopping, and socializing in old and new ways.
The COVID-19 pandemic affected nearly every aspect of our lives. Prior to this life-changing pandemic, it is possible that many used desktop computers at work to do some of their online searches. However, eMarketer reports people adapted to the massive pandemic disruptions in their lives by increasing or shifting to mobile for all kinds of products and services.
Mobile reigns supreme for searches “near me.”
Essential for small businesses, location-based searches for a variety of products and services usually happen with mobile devices according to The Search Review. Retail inquiries into categories, mobile users asked when businesses are open, hunted for coupons, asked about layaways, and return policies, and wanted the advice of others by looking for store reviews. Food and beverage inquiries included questions about how to cook, ideas while shopping, calorie counts, bartending tips, and food safety. Each major industry category generates different reasons people search for their info, but nearly all local-focused searches occur on mobile devices by people seeking to meet their needs.
Will your website be friendly to people viewing through the changing screen sizes used by the devices they carry in their pockets and bags? The desktop is at work, at work-from-home, and at school. The mobile device is everywhere.
Details important for mobile user happiness:
· Load time is furiously fast.
· Your website is responsive to mobile-sized screens.
· Text is legible on mobile as well as desktop screens.
· Buttons are large enough for fingers to activate them easily and spaced far enough apart.
· Color contrast on mobile is enough for easy reading on all screen sizes.
· People who like to research before buying find accessing your website on different screens to be similar experiences, without uncertainty.
Details important for businesses:
· Google rewards mobile-friendly websites by including more mobile-friendly sites in search results for searches on mobile.
· Mobile-friendly sites experience better customer satisfaction, sales, and reputation.
A few resources to support an inquiry into this question:
· Take the super-fast Google Mobile-Friendly Test.
· Get customized suggestions from Google on several issues.
· Hire experts to get it done for you while you run your business.
Some business owners prefer to get it done themselves, while others don’t want to tackle the job. It can be fun for some, tedious and overwhelming for others. At the minimum, we encourage you to get educated about some topics surrounding mobile-friendly and responsive websites so that you can write better customer surveys, interpret news reports more clearly, and experience better communication with your employees.
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