Mobile Traffic Is Overtaking Desktop Traffic Right Now

We have all seen the projections that show mobile traffic increasing like the true juggernaut that it is, projected to skyrocket right past desktop Internet traffic by this summer. It’s official. It’s happened, and it’s happening. It is now here. Mobile and app usage has now surpassed desktop Internet usage. Mobile traffic is overtaking desktop traffic right now.

For just one second, think about how many times we check our phones. We check it for texts, phone calls, emails, social media, music, apps of every kind, the Internet, our bank accounts, and even the time on our phones.

Field expert Jay Baer says that people check their phones 110 times a day on average. On average. That’s not even on the higher end of the median.

It only makes sense that our on-the-go society has grown fond of an inherently on-the-go technology. With data plans getting both cheaper and more popular, this trend has nowhere to go but up, and you don’t want to lose sales and clients because you’re not technologically up to date.

While some companies have great SEO practices with their full, already running sites (and maybe even their newer mobile sites, too) some businesses either need to get their mobile site up and running, or they can consider new ways to make them even better.

Mobile traffic overtaking desktop traffic is a much bigger deal than just a fun trivia fact. It affects your mobile site and even a part of your online marketing. So what exactly does it mean? Let’s find out.

The Facts

It emphasizes that while desktop users are still checking in consistently at high numbers, mobile users have risen dramatically and caught up with (and yes, surpassed) them. Both technologies are important, however, and neither can be neglected.


Data and Graph from Comscore
Data and graph from comScore


It’s not necessarily true, however, that users will now consistently reach for their smart phone instead of sitting down at their laptop, because they won’t. It just means that they are more likely to grab their mobile devices than before. Basically, mobile traffic has begun to surpass desktop traffic at least sometimes. Mobile devices include smart phones as well as tablets, which are both designed to be taken and used everywhere. We are now connected to the Internet and each other in ways that we never were before. If you’re sitting on a subway or are in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, you are obviously unlikely to bust out a computer. You are extremely likely, on the other hand, to use your smart phone or tablet, whether it’s to check e-mail, news, or take care of business. Then, when you’re at work or at home, you will likely use a desktop in order to write reports, conduct business, or do large amounts of research.

This graph shows what peak hours are for each type of device.
This graph shows what peak hours are for each type of device.

As shown above, smart phones are likely to be used in the morning when users are on the move, while desktops are used most frequently during working hours, and tablets dominate the evenings. The general idea here: all device platforms are important, and nothing can be neglected. However, since most sites have been focused on desktop users for years, it’s the mobile side of the sites that now have to be caught up.

Have Working Sites For Mobile

Yes, this is a little harder than it sounds. Of course you want to make sure your normal, desktop site functions well for all platforms and browsers, but it’s now important to have a website designed purely for mobile users if you can afford it. What this means is two different sites with two different layouts, which are cross linked to combine them for users.

If mobile users arrive at your full site, automatically redirect them to the mobile version, and, vice versa, offer directions to your full site it has features your mobile site doesn’t. Mobile sites often don’t rankly in the top spots on Google yet, leading users to view the fullsite on their mobile devices, which may offer an inferior experience from a mobile device.

What exactly does a mobile site consist of? As Jakob Nielsen explains, it consists of a bit of cutting back. Reducing both features and content to only what is necessary helps mobile sites in the long run. This does not mean to sell yourself short on products. You can shorten the descriptions of a product or service, but never leave off something that your company offers—if a potential client sees ten products, they’ll assume you don’t have anything else, even if you do. They’ll go look elsewhere. Don’t encourage them to do so. The mobile site will likely have slight cuts in content, but it shouldn’t cut anything crucial to your users.

The designs for a full site and a mobile site will be different, even if you have both sites processed through the same HTML code (more coming on that later!). On Mobile sites, Nielsen suggests enlarging interface elements to “accommodate the ‘fat finger’ problem” which seems to haunt us all. I have a size four finger (the standard size for women is a 7) and I am constantly plagued by that dreadful fat finger problem. Making a site easier to navigate should always be a priority no matter what platform you’re on, but it’s especially true when you’re holding a five inch long phone and have to click on millimeter-sized navigational portals. We’ve all been there. It’s no good. Your site being easy to use is one thing that will keep you from driving away clients, and how easy it is to navigate physically as well as visually has now become more of a challenge.

Having a clean, concise site is important, especially when it’s all on a tiny screen. Lots of graphics are great on desktop, where you have anywhere from thirteen inches to several feet of room for the graphics to show up. Itty bitty phone and tablet? Not so much. Not only can it take up valuable room and make your mobile page look cluttered, it can reduce usability as well as increase loading times. Keeping the user engaged and interested in your site is crucial to keeping them there. Waiting so much as six seconds for something to load with today’s quick networks is enough for users to hit the back button and try another site. Usability should trump flash; anything that isn’t all that necessary needs to be considered on the chopping block.

Utilize Mobile Responsive Sites

A responsive web site (always with the same HTML code) is one that changes its appearance, including its layout, based on the size of the screen that it is displayed on. This can be used to make small text larger on small screens, also helping to eliminate “fat finger” problem. Examples of this are shown incredibly well here. This can include formatting a website to have different or limited information while linking the two sites as one to users. What this means is that instead of focusing one two separate sites (one for desktops and one for mobile), you can link them together, and when you update one site, you’ve updated both. In the long run it can save a lot of time.

Responsive sites can also be easier for a customer to use. It’s easier for users to share and interact with content.

For example, let’s say a user shares a link to your mobile site on social media, and their follower clicks it. They wind up on a site that doesn’t function quite right on a desktop since it was designed for a different device entirely, instead of a site that automatically adjusts its size and content (too many graphics on a smart phone=bad idea) to fit the screen.

Or, they may end up being redirected to another site, causing them to wait through redirecting and loading times. Either option runs the risk of becoming frustrating, and it ends with a potentially unhappy or underwhelmed user.

This can ultimately be detrimental to your SEO ranking. Your SEO can also be hindered running two separate sites because you’ll need to run two separate SEO campaigns for each one. That’s double the link building, double the landing pages, double everything. It can be difficult enough to keep up with SEO as it is, can you imagine doing so on two separate sites?

The good news: responsive web designs are not an overwhelming monetary investment. One website to run, after all, is cheaper than two, especially if you have the added cost of paying someone to run and manage it for you. In most cases, your current existing website can be updated entirely so that you don’t have to start from scratch.

Make Sure Google Sees Your Responsive Site

Want a major benefit of turning your site into a responsive site? Google likes responsive sites. And as we all know, when Google likes something your site is doing, that’s a very, very good thing. It is their recommended configuration when it comes to mobile sites; it is a recommendation so strong, in fact, that it comes bolded on Google’s information page about smart phones.

Google strong recommends responsive sites. In bold.
Google strong recommends responsive sites. In bold.

Part of the reason Google probably recommends responsive sites is because it’s easier on them, but that’s ok, because in the long run responsive sites are also often easier on you, too. As the information page on Google says, “it saves resources for both your site and Google’s crawlers.” Google doesn’t need different crawlers to look over multiple sites to ultimately retrieve the same content, they can just glance over one to find it, saving them valuable time and resources.

As always, make sure that your site doesn’t block any crawls from Google, resulting in the content of your page not registering. Having a responsive site can boost SEO with Google, but only if they can register that you have it!

Incorporate Conversational Searches

For a lot of smart phone users, that phone is in their hand so much you would think it was glued there. Increasingly (as this article says) we are using our mobile phones for just about everything, and phones are adding more features to make this easier to do. One of the most popular (and relatively new) features? Talk to text. Siri. Voice searches. Keywords now need to be though of as how they exist within the context of a phrase or in speech, instead of just as singular entities.

Talk to text can be a bit of a struggle. Sometimes it seems to hear you crystal clear, registering exactly what you’re saying and even spelling it correctly, and sometimes I swear I’ll just be trying to set an alarm to wake up the next morning and Siri will provide me with detailed instructions to the local fire department. We’ve all been there. But still, we continue to use it, even when it butchers our words and phrases horribly because it makes our lives easier.

Because we are speaking directly into the phone instead of typing everything out, our phrasing will be drastically more conversational as opposed to traditional writing and searches on a desktop computer. Punctuation is much more likely to be missing since the talk to text app—at least on my own—isn’t advanced enough to hear commas and periods yet.

Searches will be longer, because who needs to save time typing it all out when you can just say twice as much faster? Users will ask their phones “where is the closest clinic” instead of Googling “urgent care + locations.”

Long tail keywords will be extremely helpful, and remembering to use conversational keywords and phrasing in your SEO campaign can make a difference between gaining new clients or losing them. Marketing and SEO has always been about thinking like your customer to determine what they want. That includes how they’re going to search.

Being able to accurately predict that your customer will use phrases instead of technicalities to search for your business can help you find them if you take that knowledge to heart and apply it.