2017 Mobile Search Trends & Strategy Insights

Mobile Search Trends 2017 Strategy Insights

Take a cursory glance in any coffee shop, train station or airport and you’ll witness the overwhelming popularity of mobile web browsing. Nearly doubling in prevalence from five years ago, the latest Pew Research reveals that almost 80% of all Americans now own a smartphone. And while some are poking around on social media or checking-in with the latest news, many are using mobile devices to search.

In fact, now more Internet users are performing Google searches on mobile devices over PC’s and desktop computers. This underscores a significant trend that search marketers need to leverage in order to stay ahead of the curb. In this post, we shed light on several compelling statistics and how you can leverage these mobile search trends in 2017.

1. Mobile Search Outweighs Desktop

According to Google, over 50 percent of global search queries are conducted from mobile devices. A recent report from Hitwise reinforces these trends by arguing that mobile search in the US makes up 58 percent of overall search query volume.

The data aggregated from Hitwise is based on an average of 11 key categories and associated queries. The company “examined hundreds of millions of online search queries” across smartphones, tablets, and PCs between April 10 and May 7, 2016.

Share of Searches Conducted on Mobile Devices, by Industry

Mobile Search Data by Hitwise

Graph reflective of data from Hitwise.

“Food & Beverage” was the category with the highest percentage of mobile search volume at 72 percent, while “Banking” was the lowest with 39 percent. Other notable categories with over 60 percent mobile search distribution were “Health,” “Sports,” “Lifestyle,” and “Automotive.”

Mobile Search Strategy Insight

It doesn’t matter if you run a pizzeria or jewelry store, if your site is not mobile-friendly, then your marketing is compromised. Not only is having a mobile-friendly site critical to converting traffic into customers, but it’s an importable variable that influences mobile search engine rankings.  Test your site’s mobile friendliness here.

2. Mobile Search Trending Toward Long-Tail

Another interesting discovery in the Mobile Search report from Hitwise is that mobile search queries are slightly longer than desktop and PC-based queries. For example, in the Food & Beverage category, mobile queries were at 15.5 characters (just over two words), while average PC query strings were 13.8 characters. Although the true definition of a “long-tail” query is 3+ words, we’re starting to see a trend toward longer keyword searches across the board. This especially propelled with the rampant growth of voice search.

Mobile Search Strategy Insight

While it can be easy to optimize a local business’s site for the obvious terms, like “chiropractor Berkeley” or “jewelry San Diego,” there could be more low-hanging fruit worth harvesting.

For example, perhaps the San Diego jewelry store can create a category for “engagement rings” or “diamond necklaces.” For the chiropractor, a good SEO copywriter might use semantically relevant terms like “spine specialist” and “chiropractic adjustments.” While some of these variations may or may not be as popular, they could lend to in-market traffic that’s more prone to convert.

Also, don’t forget about the increasing popularity of “near me” search queries. You can learn how to leverage this mobile-first trend here.

3. An Uproar in Mobile Voice Search

As we hinted at earlier, voice search is playing a pivotal role in both long-tail and mobile search trends. According to Google CEO, Sundar Pichai, 20 percent of searches on mobile devices are now voice searches. By 2020, voice commands will make up 50% of all searches.

voice mobile search strategy

Image by WebCEO

Voice search is become a primary mobile optimization strategy for specific needs, such as:

  • Fun & entertainment (21%)
  • Search for local content and businesses information (22%)
  • Personal voice assistance (27%)
  • Search for general information (30%)

Best articulated by Search Engine Land’s Greg Sterling:

“The range of virtual assistants, such as Siri, Cortana, Google Voice Search/Now, Viv, Amazon Alexa, and now, Google Home, are collectively training people to search using their voices and to become more “conversational” with search and mobile devices.”

Mobile Search Strategy Insight

As search continues to become more mobile-dominant, and a greater portion of those queries initiated by voice commands, there are important SEO and content marketing implications. For SEO, harnessing well-optimized microdata can be a powerful way to convert in-market users directly from the search results. How?

According to prominent SEM specialist Jennifer Slegg, 43.3 percent of featured snippets are used to answer voice search queries. Users anticipate a direct response to search queries, and smart marketers can deliver with the help of optimized structured data markup. Be it business hours, directions, phone numbers or other basic info, using Schema can lend to more click-throughs and direct conversions.

4. Mobile Search & Consumer Purchasing Decisions

According to a compelling article, Realizing the Potential of Mobile Measurement, at ThinkWithGoogle.com, the future of marketing is increasingly focused on mobile, with search leading the way. In that article, research from Bain & Company and Econsultancy shows that mobile influences consumers’ purchase decisions in the following ways:  

  • 69% of smartphone owners turn to mobile search first in a moment of need,
  • 76% of people who search on their smartphone for something nearby visit a business within a day, and
  • 28% of those searches result in a purchase.

Mobile Search Strategy Insight

Think With Google offers a few strategic insights to help drive business growth with mobile. These insights are based on some of the industry’s leading marketers.

  • Focus on business metrics: 95% of leading marketers agree that “to truly matter, marketing analytics KPIs must be tied to broader business goals.
  • Bridge gaps with estimates: Leading marketers are 71% more likely than the mainstream to regularly use estimates to bridge gaps in measurement and analytics practice.
  • Embrace big-bet experiments: Top marketers are more than twice as likely to conduct big-bet experiments than the mainstream.

5. Mobile’s Immense Contribution to Revenue

By relying on rudimentary measurement methods and KPIs designed for a less mobile-intensive era, businesses may be misunderstanding the true nature of the consumer’s purchasing path. That is, a journey that can being on a mobile device and later end up in another channel. In essence, many digital marketers are underestimating the true value of mobile.

Bain & Company’s Laura Beaudin states in a compelling publication about mobile marketing:

“Recognizing that conventional metrics don’t fully capture the contribution made by mobile, some companies have begun using estimates or proxies. A Bain & Company analysis of 534 marketing campaigns shows that for every $100 of revenue attributed to mobile display ads by conventional metrics, an additional $90 should be attributed to mobile for purchases made on another device. By applying this 1.9x multiplier to the revenue attributed to mobile by conventional metrics, companies can get a better estimate of the power of the platform.”

mobile marketing moment bain

Compelling graphic thanks to Bain.com

Mobile Search Strategy Insight

Marketers who are willing to look beyond their own conventional metrics, invest in mobile, test mobile-first campaigns and embrace the magic of the medium have an opportunity to leap ahead of their competitors. Laura lays out a number of action items that can help shape your mobile search strategy:

  • Determine how much time your target audience spend on mobile, and how mobile fits into their purchasing decisions. With mobile, you can reach customers and the precise moment they’re most likely to make a purchase.
  • Don’t be deceived by your own measurements. Mobile probably plays a bigger role than you realize in your customers’ buying decisions.
  • Look at broad business results, such as retail sales, not narrow metrics. Where possible, use estimates and proxies to build a full picture, and once you have the data, double down on mobile and keep testing.
  • Test and learn, and test at scale. Much testing of mobile advertising is too small, too timid or too slow. Be bold. With focused campaigns, you can make a big, meaningful shift into mobile.
  • Optimize your digital campaigns for mobile. Avoid repurposed video from television or another platform. Be creative. Look beyond discounts and aim for magic.

There’s no question that future of marketing, particularly search marketing, is mobile. If your company is far behind on some of these 2017 mobile search trends, address the corresponding strategy insights sooner than later and contact Captivate Local for professional mobile marketing solutions.