BrightEdge Research Reports The Gap Between Mobile and Traditional Desktop Search Widening

New Brightedge Data Shows Dramatic Differences In Mobile And Desktop Search Results And The Divergence Of The Desktop And Mobile Content Experience

New data released by BrightEdge, the leader in enterprise SEO and content performance marketing, reveals that mobile website traffic is outpacing traditional desktop traffic with mobile searches on Google now representing 57% of all search traffic. In addition, the research also indicates a significant shift to a new mobile-first index.

Read Also: Interview with Kevin Bobowski, SVP Marketing – BrightEdge

In October 2016, Google announced that it was running experiments to make rankings dependent on website mobile optimization, as well as show mobile site previews in search results. BrightEdge research data confirms that two distinctly different content experiences are already being presented to mobile and desktop users. Going forward, BrightEdge will continue to report on mobile and desktop disparity monthly.

Key finding #1: Mobile Traffic Outpaces Desktop as Mobile Revenues Accelerates

According to BrightEdge research, mobile searches represent 57% of all search traffic on Google. With Facebook recently reporting that mobile advertising drove 87% of ad revenue, mobile alters the traditional digital advertising landscape and presents challenges to marketers to deliver a consistent customer experience across devices and channels.

Recommended Read: Adoption of AI, Voice Search, and Hyper-Local in Content Keys to Marketing Success, says BrightEdge Report

Carlos Spallarossa, Director of SEO, L’Oréal, said, “Mobile traffic is huge for us and our industry—above the 57% BrightEdge is reporting. We are developing content with a mobile- first perspective to connect with our users with info, use advice, and reviews–especially when they are near a store where they can easily purchase.”

Key finding #2: Google’s Mobile-First Index Is Becoming More Prominent

BrightEdge data tracked Google’s experimentation with the mobile-first index since the index was initially announced in 2016. In June, 79% of all searches were different across mobile and desktop. This indicates that marketers must optimize for both mobile and desktop to deliver the best customer experience.

Google’s Mobile
Key finding #3: Optimizing for Mobile & Desktop is Mission-Critical

The new research confirmed that emergence of two separate search indexes –– one for desktop and one for mobile –– with 47% of keywords in positions 1-20 rank differently on search on mobile and desktop SERPs.

Read More: BrightEdge Adds New Site Audit and Local Search Capabilities to Drive a Great User Experience

The nuances and implications of a mobile-first index are significant. For example, brands will find that their rank changes across mobile and desktop, driving changes in conversions and revenue.

Different types of content will appear for the same search term based on if the user is using a mobile device or traditional desktop computer.

Key finding #4; Winning with Micro-Moments Requires a Fresh Look at Content Strategy

Not only does Google rank differently across mobile and desktop, it is also surfacing different content across mobile and desktop 23% of the time.

The range across verticals is 14%-35%, a trend that is likely driven by the following factors:

  • Google is optimizing the customer experience –– which is different across mobile and desktop.
  • Brands thinking about micro-moments must identify customer intent, and through these findings drive content creation to win those specific micro-moments.
  • Even though marketers (stat) are moving toward responsive sites, it is important to recognize how devices are driving and influencing the search intent and providing insights into customer needs.

In June, BrightEdge analyzed the content shown for particular queries and found that the top-ranking page was different between mobile and desktop for an average 23% of the time among the top 20 ranking keywords.

  • This means that while a brand may appear on the first page for a desktop query, 23% of the time it will also return a different top-ranking page on the mobile SERP.
  • Brands that don’t track mobile carefully will have traffic arriving on pages that are almost certainly different than they expect.

BrightEdge Advisory: Making the most of the mobile opportunity

BrightEdge has found that not all mobile content is created equally; what works and reads well on one device type may not work on another (for example, mobile vs. tablet). Mobile content success is based on understanding the customer experience and serving content for the customer in key moments along their purchasing journey.

To take advantage of this opportunity, BrightEdge advises that marketers:

  • Design and optimize their websites for speed and mobile friendliness
  • Identify and differentiate mobile vs. desktop demand
  • Understand different online consumer intent signals
  • Produce separate mobile and desktop content that resonates on multiple device types
  • Focus on optimizing mobile content and mobile pages to improve conversions
  • Track, measure, and compare mobile and desktop results continuously

BrigtEdge report clearly suggests that marketers must focus on designing and optimizing website for speed, responsiveness and mobile-friendliness. With mobile-first indexing making its presence felt in marketing analytics, it’s imperative for businesses to understand the customer intent signals across desktop and mobile, tracking organic search rank separately for mobile and desktop separately.

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