Mobile search rules the world

Google mobile search stats overtake desktop search
Credit: Shutterstock

In May, Google announced mobile search topped desktop search in 10 countries, including the U.S. This week, it said mobile rules the entire world.


Google, the best company at attracting and following eyeballs, is reengineering its desktop search monopoly to follow the eyeball migration to mobile. Mobile search differs from desktop search because the search results take into account the availability of apps that better present the search results than ordinary web pages. So mobile search results are now creating mobile app users. The rewards of mobile SEO are driving mobile app developers to modify their apps so they will be discovered and indexed by Google.

Amit Singhal, Google's search technology chief, said that over 100 billion links in mobile apps had been indexed and made searchable, resulting in mobile search now taking the lead over desktop search throughout the world, Re/code reported. Singhal also said, "apps are fundamentally a far better way to render the same information than rendering on the Web." If Google Fellow Singhal said apps are better, then it's fair to assume apps and mobile search are merging.  

Singhal explained the abstract concept of app indexing by aligning user preferences for mobile apps instead of web pages, because apps are typically more responsive and produce a richer interaction. Google's mobile search results include mobile app suggestions that can fulfill the users' search intent. The results include both content and apps, moving app discovery from the overwhelming and impenetrable 1.5 million apps on Google Play and the Apple App Store to the predictable relevance of search results.

These screenshots depict the streamlined mobile search results from app indexing that can be directly converted with a click into the app. In this case, the user can then make a restaurant reservation with just one more click. 

100915 mobile search

Google launched app indexing and deep linking in October 2013 to a limited group of customers. Then, in June 2014, the company opened indexing to all app developers that had a mobile website mirroring the app content. This April, Google opened app indexing to mobile-first developers without a website, including their apps in mobile search results.  

Similarly to how web pages can be optimized for search by encoding the pages to be more easily read and indexed by Google's crawlers, explicit coding in the mobile app alerts Google to index a specific point within the app so that the user is taken deeply into the app when the search result is clicked. Singhal's claim of 100 billion indexed app links mean that Android and iOS developers have explicitly encoded specific parts of apps universal resource identifiers (URI) 100 billion times so that they can be included in search results. The magnitude of that effort represents a serious developer endorsement for Google's strategy.

Singhal deferred responsibility for monetizing app indexing and deep linking to his commercial counterpart Sridhar Ramaswamy, Google SVP of Ads and Commerce. But he did imply that Google's model of scaling first and monetizing later would apply when he said, "whenever you have that model, to bring that information to user and services, there's always ways to monetize them."

It seems like, had Singhal had his way, Accelerated Mobile Page Project (AMP) would have been the sole topic of conversation. AMP is generally confused to be Google's response to Facebook's hosting of select media, such as the New York Times and The Atlantic. It's really Google's response to poorly designed web pages that have been over-monetized with ads.

Crippled web page performance due to bad design and monetization caused the recent controversy over ad-blockers, which users have begun adoption to reduce page load times. Google has been a sponsor and contributor to open source tools used to measure and study the performance of web pages.

If successful, AMP will improve the performance of mobile web page load times and help develop ad serving that generates ad revenues for site owners with an experience that is more tolerable for users.  

Mobile search's dominance is an important milestone. A lot of app developers and SEO analysts have kept tabs on its progress and aren't surprised. Singhal mentioned it because it's an important platform from which to introduce app indexing and AMP.

Must read: Hidden Cause of Slow Internet and how to fix it
View Comments
Join the discussion
Be the first to comment on this article. Our Commenting Policies