Will Mobile “Search” Tools Decrease Traditional Search Engine Use?

by claire on July 6, 2009

I spent some time this weekend organizing my iPhone apps and started thinking about how many of my most-used apps are really micro or niche search engines. Oftentimes, if I’m looking for a restaurant, I flip to Urbanspoon or Yelp, directions – maps, open houses – Trulia, travel – Kayak. However, if I’m sitting at my computer, 95% of the time, I go first to Google. I started a little internal dialog with myself… yes, I hear voices ;) … debating whether rising use of fancy-smancy cell phones will decrease traditional search engine use. For me, the majority of my livelihood is built around helping people to build sites that get to the top for their key search terms, so any decline could be detrimental for the future of my career. Fortunately, I’m also a big preacher of diversifying, using social media and all available resources to get your content out there, so ultimately, this transition would be smooth. But will there really be a transition?

Maybe. But not for a long time. At least that’s my speculation and here’s why:

  1. Large Un-Tapped Volume of Searches
  2. In my day-to-day interactions, it seems there is still a huge gap between the early-adopter-Web-influencer group and the average Web user. Where my instinct to every question in life is to run to Google, most people still leave their “I wonders” unanswered. So, that leaves a huge amount of search volume that has yet to be released on the engines. My guess is that there’s at least 100% growth opportunity in search volume in the next few years.

  3. Growth in Smart Phone Purchases, While Also Large, Won’t Be Greater
  4. According to the below graph from a recent ChangeWave phone study as reported by Electronista, more and more people are planning to buy a smart phone in the next 90 days:
    changewavephonejune2009-lg1If 14.4% of people buy smart phones in the next 90 days and that number grows to 25% over the next year, the number will likely still be smaller than growth in volume of searches.  Not to mention, that not all new smart phone users will wholeheartedly embrace all the cool apps and may just stick to the basics.

Fellow SEOs, not to worry, job availability will only continue to grow; however, it will always be wise to take a more holistic approach to website development.  Think about that huge percentage of people using mobile phones and apps to do their searching, browsing and discovering – and be sure to make your content consumable and useful for them, no matter how they want to access it.

This post is purely a prediction, but it’s made me think it would be really wise to keep historical search volume data.  Most of the major keyword tools (Google, Keyword Discovery), don’t show year-over-year volume, but the last 12 months.

What do you think? Did I overlook some big factor?

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Polprav October 16, 2009 at 2:25 pm

Hello from Russia!
Can I quote a post in your blog with the link to you?

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