For years, every time the “Mobile” marketing topic comes up in a discussion, I hear the word “App” ad if it’s the only way of a business to be on mobile. This should really depends on the type of business and the level of investment you have. My advise was always to optimise websites for mobile devices and mobile search engines, instead of creating an App that might not be used, especially after the study that showed that 80-90% of of all downloaded apps are used once and then eventually deleted by users.

All I hear was: I doubt people use search engines on their on their mobile phones. Well, I used to try and convince them with common sense, however, now I have solid facts to supports my argument.

Google and Nielsen have conducted a thorough research to understand how mobile devices drive more conversions. The results were really interesting. Here are some:

Where do users use mobile search?

77% of mobile searches do not happen on the move, instead, they are performed either at home or at work. Only 17% occur on the go. This is very interesting, although computers are available for these users at home or in the office, they seem to feel its faster to search on their mobile devices instead of firing up the browser on their computers and search.

When do mobile searches occur

Graph of when users use mobile search - mobile SEO

Source: Google and Nielsen research

From the graph above, you can clearly see that most searches on mobile devices occur in the afternoons and evenings. This means, users are less likely to search on their way to work or during the first part of their working day.

Why use mobile search?

81% of users who participated in the research say that the reason they prefer using mobile search even while they have access to computers is the speed and convenience of performing a search on their mobile devices. One user said “It was easier on the mobile device as I didn’t have to get up [to] turn on the computer and wait for it to boot up.

There are many other interesting findings in the research and I highly recommend having a read through. However, the conclusion is that mobile search is very important. Even if you have a website and/or an App, you still need to have a mobile site that would rank high on mobile search engine result pages. If you don’t have one you would be loosing on a significant traffic from users who are actively looking for what you offer.

Importance of Mobile SEO

Unfortunately, mobile SEO is not one of the first things businesses think about or plan for when building a mobile website. Recently Mercedes USA have created a mobile site that when announced, their traffic have increased by 85% this year to date. However, after a quick mobile SEO Audit by Stone Temple Consulting it was evident that Mercedes USA did not consider mobile SEO while building this website. One of the main problems with that mobile site is that robots.txt file was preventing mobile robots from crawling the website. Yes, sad I know. The other problem is that they did not use switchboard tags to help search engine make a decision of which pages should appear on a desktop search and which on a mobile search.

Mercedes is not the only company that failed to create a mobile site that can be found on search engines. Many others have similar stories.

From the research Google and Nielsen have conducted, it is evident that Mobile is the future, and the future is already here. If businesses will fail to seriously get on Mobile, they will not survive for long. Just like Yahoo and Microsoft didn’t manage to move from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0.

Do you have a mobile friendly website? Is it optimised for search engines? Does Google easily differentiate between your mobile and desktop pages when serving results? If the answer of any of these questions is “No” then you have to step back and re-think your online strategy.