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Why Google is Emphasizing Mobile Search, and What it Means for Business

Note: Some graphs were captured from Google’s June Inside Search event video stream which can be viewed here.

Google recently held their Inside Search event in San Francisco. They introduced new technologies and applications for voice search, image search, and Google Goggles. The other main focus of the event was explaining Google’s continued development of mobile search.

So why is Google focusing on mobile search? It has the potential to be another very profitable revenue stream. It can also offset slower periods of desktop search volume.

Below are some rough search volumes for Google by day of the week. Notice that search volume on desktops is highest on Monday. It then gradually trends downward until the weekend. Saturday has the lowest volume of desktop search.

Google desktop search volume by day

Now compare it to the volume of mobile search. It stays much more consistent from Monday to Thursday. What’s important for Google is that it peaks on Saturday. Mobile search’s busiest time is desktop’s slowest.

Google mobile search volume by day

Let’s compare search volume throughout the day. Here we see the volume of desktop searches by two hour increments. People obviously search less late at night on desktops. Search volume then grows rapidly until lunch time. People leave their desktop computers and go out into the world. When they return, they have more things they need to search for, hence the peak around 3pm. Volume then steadily declines until a sharp drop off around 11pm when people are heading to bed.

Google desktop search volume by hour

Just as with search volume throughout the week, mobile search volume compliments desktop search over the course of the day.

Google mobile search volume by hour

Notice the peaks at lunchtime and the steady increase. It even peaks at 11pm. People search on their mobile devices until about midnight. At which point volume declines quickly.

Its not just mobile search that people are using. Business Insider’s article on mobile apps vs. web consumption shows that more minutes per day are spent in mobile applications than the web.

US Mobile Apps Vs. Web Consumption


Why is Google so interested in these mobile search trends? Google’s revenue from AdWords declines with drops in search volumes. Obviously mobile search is not on the same scale as desktop. If Google can make searching on mobile devices easy to use, more effective, and ultimately more widely used, they can offset some of the dip in their AdWords revenue.

So what does this mean for your business? Mobile devices have much smaller screens compared to the large monitors of desktops and laptops. When viewing mobile versions of the search engine results page, there is often only room for one or two sponsored ads.

If your business can achieve the top placement your ad will take up the majority of a users screen. If your campaign is well targeted the ad may have a higher chance of getting clicked. Less competition and a larger share of the visible screen could increase click through ratios.

Mobile may provide lower volumes of traffic but depending on what type of conversion you’re seeking, it may prove to be profitable. Users often search for something on their phone during the day, then visit the site directly when they get home to their desktop. Mobile search could be another effective branding or lead generating strategy.

It is now up to Google to continue to improve mobile search. Additional features like voice search can grow the use of mobile search. Google is focused on this to improve their business, you may be able to as well.

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About Eric Wortman

Eric Wortman is a PPC analyst at Pure Visibility. He specializes in ads for Search, Social, Mobile, as well as Local SEO. Eric is founding co-chair of SEMPO Michigan and an experienced speaker. He lives in sunny downtown Ann Arbor and is good at soccer, excellent on Facebook, and horrible at photography. You can find him on Google+.

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