Mobile Local Search Traffic Overtakes Desktop For the First Time

It’s the one sure-fire thing that’s been talked about for years and it seems apparently finally happened in mid 2015. Yes, after a huge period of chatter regarding how long it would be before local search traffic volumes originating from mobile devices would overtake desktop search, we got the answer we were waiting for just a few short months ago.

That’s according to recent research from BIA/Kelsey anyway, with the market research firm having released a new wave of figures showing just how far things have come over the past 12 months or so. It’s hardly been a secret for some time that mobile will become the most prevalent and important web access medium of all going forward, but even with all the evidence in the world and a thousand and one warnings, there are of course those that have been caught with their pants down.

Historically Significant

To take a look at the figures, you’d be forgiven for being less-than excited about the tiny difference between the recorded desktop and mobile search volumes for 2014. It’s also worth noting that the figures only take into account the United States market, which is why they don’t exactly measure up on a global scale. Still, the US leads by way of the direction of the web in general, so chances are we’d be looking at the same shift anywhere else.

According to the BIA/Kelsey report, the total of 65.6 billion local search queries originating from desktop search was pipped at the post by the 66.5 billion carried out using mobile device. A very small difference to say the least, but significant for two extremely important reasons:

  1. This was the first time in history more local searches were carried out on mobile devices.
  2. Chances are things will never, ever swing the other way again as mobile is still accelerating.

It may have been a pretty close run race for 2014, but things are likely to change quite radically by the end of 2015. With things heading the way they are, BIA/Kelsey expects to see mobile search volumes increase by a huge 23% to hit 81.8 billion, while desktop local search volumes will shrink as low as 64.6 billion. And it’s not only a temporary slump confined to 2015 either, as the same researcher predicts a full half a billion being shaved off the desktop search tally each year for the next five at least. By the end of the current decade, BIA/Kelsey predicts that local mobile search will have reached an annual total of 141.9 billion, while desktop will have fallen to 62.3 billion.

What It Means to You

If you’re running a web business or site of any kind, the long and short of things for the year ahead is one of taking full advantage of the mobile movement and avoiding being left behind. The simple fact of the matter is that anyone only just looking to make efforts to catch up as of now is already falling dangerously far behind the curve, though there is at least still a good chance of getting up to speed.

Google has made no secret of the fact that local search is a big deal – those targeting local customers are for the most part having a much easier ride than others. However, targeting local audiences using mobile marketing is a rather different kettle of fish and one that needs to be given considerable care and attention. With the right strategy and the right help, the rewards are ripe for the plucking.

Reaping the Rewards

What BIA/Kelsey also revealed in their report was the way in which mobile search spending averages are also increasing alongside search volumes. What’s incredibly beneficial about mobile devices from a business perspective is the way in which they allow for impulse purchases to be made at a moment’s notice any time of the day or night. The number of simple boredom-busting queries while commuting that turn into hard sales every hour of every day on a global basis is extraordinary. And the more people there are turning to local search, the more possible impulse buys there are on the cards for any business with a winning approach.

Staying ahead of the curve is something of a long-since sailed ship – the mobile revolution has already happened and is getting more intense by the day. Nevertheless, now certainly isn’t the time to put off until another day what could be doing your local business a world of good right now.




About Tait Pollack

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