Mobile devices the main source of Google search traffic

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smart-phone-interntGoogle now gets more search queries from people using mobile devices, such as smartphones, than it does from people browsing the internet on desktop PCs.

Over the past few years, people have increasingly been using mobile devices over PCs to check email, surf the web and even to buy products and services. The growing dominance of mobile is key not just to users but to advertisers and website developers, all of whom must make sure their content is mobile-friendly.

There are now more mobile-only internet users in the U.S. than desktop PC-only users. A new report from comScore suggests that 11.3% of people access the internet exclusively through a mobile device (smartphone or tablet), compared with 10.6% who access the internet only on a desktop PC.

According to Jerry Dischler, Vice President at Google’s AdWords, “consumers are increasingly picking up their smartphones for answers [to Google search queries].” There are now more Google searches that take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries, including the U.S. and Japan.

What does this mean for businesses?

As Google holds the market share for search engines, business must comply with their sometimes strict guidelines, which now includes having a mobile-friendly website. Google recently tweaked its search algorithm for mobile devices  — essentially rewarding new websites that look great on the small screen — while demoting those that don’t. Your website has to be optimised to be viewed on a mobile phone.

Google may penalise your website if:

  • Text and links that are too small
  • Content wider than screen (having to scroll sideways to see all the content)
  • Links too close together
  • Mobile viewport not set
  • A website that uses resources which are blocked by robots.txt
  • Avoids software that is not common on mobile devices, like Flash

Whether you’re selling a product or service, if your website is tired — perhaps designed and optimised before smartphone internet use really took off — then you should consider upgrading the design of your website so that it’s optimised for mobile phones.

Google have told us for a while of their intention to help mobile users, and late last year they came up with the first step, making it easier for mobile searches to see which sites are mobile friendly, by adding a “mobile-friendly” label to all mobile search results. A page is eligible for the “mobile-friendly” label if it meets the following criteria as detected by Googlebot:

  •  Uses text that is readable without zooming
  •  Sizes content to the screen so users don’t have to scroll horizontally or zoom
  • Places links far enough apart so that the correct one can be easily tapped

Google lets you test your website

Unfortunately, not all brand new websites are mobile friendly. You may have the most responsive and modern website, but if it wasn’t designed to take into account mobile viewing, then it won’t suffice in Google’s new world order. A responsive design shouldn’t be your goal — if anything it should be the means to your goal — and your goal should be a fast, efficient website.

Google has a great webmaster tool that is used to assess a companies mobile-friendly website credentials. All you need to do is pop in your company website URL and Google will do the rest. If it comes back in the negative, you should certainly consider upgrading the design of your website.