Affiliates who ignore mobile search trends are missing out on one of the biggest growth opportunities the Web has ever seen.

This rapidly growing, and rapidly changing, was the topic of a heavily attended panel discussion titled, Trends in Mobile Search, at the recent 2013 SMX West Conference where participants had to say about mobile search best practices. Here’s an overview of what they covered.

Mobile Search is the Real Deal

Mobile search is still a pretty new phenomenon. After all, mart phones have only been on the market since the summer of 2007 and tablets have only been around since 2010. As recently as 2010, as one of the panelists pointed out, Steven Jobs declared, “…mobile device search hasn’t happened. Search is not where it’s at…” (It was a different world back in 2010.)

Flash forward to today and smart phones account for a full 33% of all worldwide handset sales. In the United States smart phone penetration is at a whopping 54%; and in Europe’s biggest telecom markets that number is more like 55%.

While we like to poke fun at smart phone users for playing games like Fruit Ninja and Angry Birds, more often than not they’re searching for something.

According to a recent report from Comscore, search is the number one mobile activity and it’s growing bigger every day. Some industry analysts are predicting that as many as a third of all searches engine queries will come from mobile devices.

In short, mobile search is big and it’s getting bigger.

Mobile Search is Not Desktop Search

Panelist Michael Martin, a manager at the Covario SEO firm, told the SMX West audience that there are some significant differences between mobile and desktop searches. One study conducted by his group found a pagerank difference of 50% when searching generic terms, and as much as 75% when searching local terms.

Mobile search results are different from desktop search results because mobile user expectations are different from their desktop counterparts. That’s because mobile users are, for the most part, looking for immediate results. (Hence the emphasis on local results.)

As an example of this mobile usage trend, panelists pointed out the that a mobile user who searches, banking, is more likely to be looking for a bank branch or ATM they can go to right away. Desktop users are more likely to be shopping around for banking services.

Size Matters

Smartphones are big business but, physically, they’re still pretty small. Even the largest smart phone screen doesn’t provide a lot of room for displaying search results. Not surprisingly, this has a big impact on end-user behavior and SEO strategies.

That limited space decreases the number of paid search results and puts a greater emphasis on organic search results. Blogger Paras Chopra points out that small screens also make for shorter search terms.


Keeping up with the latest SEO trends is tough enough when you only have to worry about desktop searches. Mobile searches add another layer of complexity to the formula, but it also offers up some real opportunities for growth.

Where do you see mobile search heading? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.



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