What Does The Mobile Landscape Look Like In 2016?

Search has changed a lot in the past year, with phablets (phone-tablet hybrids) and impending Google algorithm updates. So, what does mobile look as we steamroll through 2016?
  • Mobile is no longer just an aspect of search marketing, but an area that needs to be looked at on its own
  • Burberry reported mobile sales were higher than desktop in 2015
  • The importance of mobile for both brands and SEO marketers is only going to increase in 2016

The landscape of search, how we view websites on the web and where marketing should be focused, has changed a lot in the past year. The mobile landscape in particular has shifted, thanks to factors such as phablets (phone-tablet hybrids) and impending Google algorithm updates. So, what does mobile look as we steamroll through 2016?

Mobile first

Mobile search surpassed desktop in 2015, making it clear that mobile is no longer just an aspect of search marketing, but an area that needs to be looked at on its own. This is not actually a replacement of desktop search with mobile, but an overall increase in mobile usage (both browsers and apps) with more time overall being spent online.

Google’s (current) Search Chief has been living “Mobile First” for over a year and there is no reason why we shouldn’t too. Thinking mobile first covers all areas, from designing a new website and making sure it looks great on mobile, to comparing your mobile traffic to desktop, to SEO and examining how results pages differ on mobile – including ads and location specific results. As Google is the primary search engine that most consider for digital marketing, it makes sense to work as they do. Google, or any other search browser, is not the only reason to be mobile first, users are.

What about tablets?

Tablet search is still a factor but mobile and desktop, each individually, easily surpass it. With the popularity of phablets (giving users the scale of screen they want without quite as much mass) tablets have yet to master a niche.

Source: Techcrunch

However, Tablets are finding increased use in the business sector, circumventing the need for a laptop, while offering better writing capabilities thanks to clip on keyboards.

Mobile is bringing money to e-commerce savvy sites

Burberry reported mobile sales were higher than desktop in 2015, accounting for the majority of traffic to Burberry.com. The brand accredited a focus on mobile users, knowing that it was a substantial consumer base, to making these gains.

A Microsoft Survey reported 77% of 18-24 year olds reach for their mobile phones when not doing anything else. When it comes to making the most of your marketing, mobile is where the people are.

If you aren’t making gains in mobile search, you should be asking if your desktop size site is putting off users, or getting you penalised in search rankings on mobile by not being easy to read.

The alternative to a responsive site – which is the same as your desktop size but fits to screen – and a mobile specific site, which can be expensive, is an app. Typically big brands, but not exclusively, businesses are using apps to get users to them specifically, going around search.

If a brand did decide to use an app, you wouldn’t be choosing it over search results. Search within Google will actually, as of 2016, be helping users to find you. Google is now allowing users to download apps directly from the SERPS (only on Google App currently, not Chrome). This is not available around the world or for every user but follows App Indexing in 2015 and reiterates the importance of mobile search and interaction at Google.

What does this all mean?

With mobile ad spending predicted to have overtaken print in the UK in 2015, the importance of mobile for both brands and SEO marketers is only going to increase in 2016.

Responsive websites, or mobile versions of sites, have become top priority after the last Google update (aka Mobile-geddon) the mobile friendly update, with fear running rampant that rankings would drop if your desktop site wasn’t ready. Though this didn’t happen, the fact that Google was so openly looking to mobile is an strong indicator of what’s to come from the search giant.

If you want your brand and business to continue to stay relevant, visible and gaining those all important sales, you will need to keep up with how mobile evolves this year. You don’t need to discount desktop, but mobile is certainly part of the future.