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Desktop searches dip as mobile continues to steal market share

Recent figures analysing US search show desktop searches are beginning to decline, with mobile search increasing its market share.

Digital analyst comScore showed 17.6billion searches were made on US PCs last month. It is in many ways a jaw-dropping number, and a growth of 600million (4%) from November 2012, but a drop of about the same amount from December 2012.

The lower year-on-year result adds weight to a downward trend in desktop search, with the final quarter of 2012 seeing the first concerted reduction in figures ever recorded following a flattening out in search growth for much of the year.

Many are seeing it as a sign that the high-water mark of desktop search has been reached and mobile search would appear to be the driving factor behind it.

The Macquarie Group projected that one third of searches would be made on mobile devices and tablets by the end of 2012.

It makes sense. Mobile devices themselves are increasingly amenable to prolonged search while the advent of 4G means mobile browsing infrastructure has come on leaps and bounds.

That paves the way for a general growth in mobile search and spikes in fields such as bars and restaurants, as well as a majority share of map searches.

In October, comScore said: “In the past six months alone… the number of smartphone visitors to Maps websites and apps has jumped 24% to 92 million unique visitors – a monthly penetration of 83% among smartphone users.

It added: “Searches with a mapping/navigation intent on the Big 5 Engines are down 34% over the past 15 months, going from 74.8 million to 49.5 million in August.”

While some question whether mobile SEO need be any different from general SEO, it seems pretty apparent that there are nuances that need to be appreciated when optimising for mobile devices.

If you or a client operates in a field where mobile search is a rapidly growing marketing consideration, you may well have already begun to focus on these differences, but evidence suggests SEOs in all fields should make sure they understand them.