With the hype surrounding Google’s Mobile Update on the 21st April you could be forgiven for thinking that the subject of mobile search has died down a little. You’d be wrong though, the mobile update was just the beginning.
For the first time, at their #StepInsideAdWords event last Tuesday, Google has stated that mobile searches have overtaken desktop in 10 countries, including the US and Japan. After talking about the year-of-mobile at conferences since 2008 – it seems to have finally arrived.
However Google faces a significant problem in mobile search. While their superiority as a search engine has been largely based on search relevance, this means little if the user experience is poor. TechCrunch found that 44% of the Fortune 500 companies failed Google’s mobile friendly test. And if we’re being honest, that’s really the entry level position at the moment.
So Google needs to up their game significantly on mobile, before a competitor starts offering a better experience in this growing search space. That means delivering a series of “carrots and sticks” to get brands to deliver a better mobile experience for Google users.
The first “stick” in this campaign has been Google’s mobile update on the 21st April, which was largely about getting websites to address basic mobile configuration issues and retain their traffic. While you could argue the “carrot” was the chance of better rankings, this would have been more a consequence of competitor failings.
The true “carrot” has been the release of Google’s app indexation and deep linking. Google knows that sometimes the best answer to a mobile search query isn’t a web page at all, but content found within a mobile app. Google’s guide on App Searching For Mobile Search should be required reading for any SEOs right now, and Jill Kocher has written an excellent article on this topic:.
In April, Google announced that it would be offering links to pages within mobile apps, not only for searchers who have the app installed, but also for all mobile searchers on Android devices. This is good news for ecommerce sites with excellent apps that are having trouble increasing their app user base, because Google’s search results can help increase install rates as well as boost re-engagement from existing users.
Brands who have already heavily invested in their app infrastructure could already direct users to that content and deliver a superior user experience. For example, imagine a user investigating a mobile carrier outage – conducting this through the app would allow the brand to capture all the information they need to turn that search inquiry into a report, topped off with a CRM process that lets the user know once the outage had been fixed.
This opportunity enters unchartered waters for some SEOs. They will have to start thinking carefully around search intent, website/app content and how these journeys could best be served. Together with colleagues from every side of the business, they should help identify and engineer user search journeys into the most positive experience available.
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