Desktop vs. Mobile Searching 2010

We are living on the edge of yet another technological revolution. Yes, another one! While it may not seem like as big of a breakthrough as the microchip or wireless systems, the switchover from desktop search engines to mobile search engines is well under way and will change the future not only of how we search the internet, but of how business conduct themselves online.

Desktop Search vs. Mobile Search in Internet Marketing

In days gone by if you wanted your website to be successful your primary concern was to ensure that it was listed in the major desktop search engines. While this is still true to a degree, searches conducted from mobile devices are quickly approaching critical levels, especially among young mobile users, and it is an accepted fact that mobile searches will outnumber desktop searches in the not-too-distant future.

For the time being we are, in effect, living in two worlds; during the workday desktop usage is very high, but in the evenings, mobile searching rules, and as more work places become more mobile, the demographics of searches will be changing.

What is Driving Mobile Search Growth?

The iPhone, Android and BlackBerry are primarily responsible for the exponential growth in mobile searches. These smartphones, coupled with the growing number of Wi-Fi hotspots and high speed broadband systems, not to mention the technologically savvy young people who are using them, are changing the way that people around the world regard their mobile phones. No longer are they primarily phones with a few extra features, now they are mobile, palm-sized communication centers where it is nearly as easy to check your mail and do your banking as it is to make a phone call or send a text message. The people have spoken, and the word they have spoken is “mobile.” The question is; are the retailers and website owners going to be able to adapt themselves quickly enough to answer?

Desktop vs. Mobile Searching

In order to successfully take your website mobile, there are a number of issues regarding mobile searching vs. desktop searching that need to be understood. The first and foremost is the very structure of the mobile search environment.

Mobile search differs from computer-based searches primarily due to the dual path system of the mobile search environment. Every phone comes set up with a default search engine chosen by the mobile carrier. These self-contained systems only show the results of the mobile carrier’s chosen search engine, a search engine that, as often as not, is the mobile carrier itself. This means that there will be fewer choices showing up in the search results, and unless the search engines you are listed with have a contract or deal with the mobile phone carrier, those particular customers may never see your site.

Thankfully, for any phone that has online capability, there is also access to standard search engines such as Yahoo! or Google, which are accessible by opening up the web browser. The downside of off-system searching is that not all sites have been optimized for mobile browsing and uploading a data heavy, un-optimized site can slow things down to a crawl. So it is very important to make sure that your site is mobile search optimized so that customers will not give up before they ever see your merchandise.

Another issue with desktop vs. mobile searching is how the results are displayed on the device being used. When using a desktop, all results display the same no matter what sort of a desktop or laptop you are using. But with mobile display, it depends entirely on the brand of mobile being used.

And finally, mobile searches usually display only up to five results with very few mobile browsers bothering to scroll to the second page of listings. For the website owner, this means that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is becoming crucial in ensuring that your website gets put at the top of the list.

What Does This Mean For Marketing Your Website?

The short, short version is that for the time being, not only consumers going to have to master two different kinds of internet searches, but website owners and website designers are going to have to master be not only design websites that are searchable by traditional desktop searches, but that are flexible enough to adapt to mobile search parameters and the increased dependence on SEO optimization that mobile systems demand.

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Vic - Toronto SEO consultant and Web Developer with a great passion for Web Usability and Search Engine Optimization.

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