Are Mobile Phones Going to Drive SEO?
Google recently let it be known that its mobile phone search volume now exceeds desktop and tablet search volume in the U.S., Japan and eight other countries. Not exactly surprising, but a data point worth pondering nonetheless.
Google had made it pretty obvious even before the “mobile-friendly” update that mobile-friendly Web pages could expect favored treatment in its organic listings. For quite a while Google has been encouraging organizations to deploy responsive websites or dedicated mobile websites, but relatively few companies have answered the call. Data suggests approximately 40% of Fortune 500 company websites are not mobile friendly, and the percentages among smaller companies are no doubt far higher.
Considering Google’s mobile-friendly update, this recent revelation about mobile phone search volume and the observation that 90 percent of the U.S. population ages 5-plus has its nose buried in a smartphone, I’m wondering why companies have been so slow to react. Customers and prospects are obviously using mobile phones for research and purchasing. Google is obviously interested in delivering high-quality SERPs for mobile phone queries to keep its organic search users happy. The writing is on the wall. Desktops are out; mobile phones are in.
But we ain’t seen nothing yet. Wait until 25 percent of the adult U.S. population (and 50 percent of the influencers) is wearing Apple Watches. Already, 15 million Americans are planning to buy one. That’s a huge number. Apple Watches will drive more people to business-related activity on their mobile phones; Apple Watch is, after all, an interactive Cliff's Notes version of an iPhone.
I have never bought into the very old idea that SEO and human marketing are in conflict. That’s a lot of baloney, ideas promulgated by writing purists who don’t really understand the nature of keywords, and by the example of black hat SEOs who manipulate the system in an attempt to gain short-term ranking results without any regard for what happens when humans actually click on their links.
Google wants to make its users happy. Users use mobile phones. Mobile users are happy when they get click-on SERP links that take them to Web pages that deliver a terrific mobile user experience. Companies mired in a desktop-only SEO mentality are not seeing the big picture. Instead of visualizing a corporate buyer toiling away in an office in front of a desktop monitor, such companies should create a new persona — a corporate buyer fiddling around with his/her mobile phone waiting for a movie to start, checking prices on a vendor that seems to have gotten suspiciously expensive.
What kind of search phrases is this mobile phone-based buyer using? What kind of content is he/she looking for? These are questions that should be at least considered in an SEO campaign, if not driving it. We’re not there yet - to the point where desktop considerations have become barely relevant - but the day may be coming sooner than we think.
What do you think?