In June 2014, BrightEdge research on the mobile opportunity revealed that “On average, 62 percent of organic searches show different results depending on whether the search was performed on a desktop or smartphone.” Knowing that organic search results are different on desktop computers or smartphones is important because content which is believed to be optimized for high rankings on desktops may in fact rank differently or poorly on smartphones. For marketers, not ranking highly on smartphones results in lost opportunities to reach and engage audiences.
Brands which did not rank well on smartphones in 2014 were at risk of missing up to 25% of their customers because smartphones, as a channel, were 25% of device traffic. In 2016, smartphones are the majority of device traffic and optimizing for mobile content is no longer a choice.
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Search results and mobile searchers
As smartphones have grown in importance, Google’s search results have evolved to be relevant to predominantly mobile searchers. Google is aligning their mobile content to deliver a great experience, matched to mobile searcher intent, by showing mobile searchers different results from what a desktop search would yield. The differences between desktop and smartphone results have increased markedly as the share of mobile searches has increased.
BrightEdge research shows that as of October 2016, 73 percent of organic searches now show different results based on the device used to perform the organic search. This is a marked increase from 2014: Two-thirds of search results were different back then but now three-quarters of search results are different. Effectively, smartphone searchers are receiving different results from desktop searchers. BrightEdge expects the difference in results to increase further as Google works to optimize the relevance of the content it presents to its users.
The takeaway from this research update? Brands must optimize content for multiple devices in order to compete for and win customers on any device, be it smartphones, tablets, or desktops.