Google Struggles With Mobile Searches As Consumers Focus On Apps Over Search Engines

There was a time not too long ago when Google was the only name that mattered when it came to search engines. After all, the name has become so synonymous with “search” that the colloquial term for “look it up” is to “Google it.” Most search engine functions were done on a desktop, but now the times are a-changing, and Google mobile search has overtaken the PC.

This change was initially reported earlier this year, but it only took into consideration 10 countries, including the US and Japan. But a subsequent report confirmed that there are now more Google searches being done on mobile devices than on desktop computers around the world.

According to Amit Singhal, senior VP of Google Search, more than 100 billion inquiries are made on the Google search engine every month, with more than half of that number coming from searches made on mobile devices – those with screens that are less than six inches diagonally. This takes tablets out of the equation and just leaves smartphones. It’s highly likely that these stats include searches done through typing, voice, and apps.

The Google search boss made that revelation during last week’s Re/code Code/Mobile conference, where he sat down for interviews and talked about what’s in store for Google’s search function.

Google undoubtedly led the way when it came to desktop searches, but mobile searching is obviously important now and will continue to grow in importance. And this is where the company is facing a crisis – it’s not making money from mobile search.

A sizable chunk of its revenue comes from searches, and with about 1.8 billion smartphones on the planet using the Android operating system, one would think that Google mobile search would be raking in some serious income.

Unfortunately, it would appear that this is one area where Google is struggling since half of Android users are not even using Google to search.

One major reason for the decline in mobile search is the prevalence of apps. Compared to desktop users who have to type Facebook or Gmail on the search engine, mobile users just tap an icon for the program to be launched. Plus, Google also has to contend with Amazon, Apple, and Facebook when it comes to mobile searching.

This shift means the company has to adapt and improve so that Google’s mobile search engine can continue to become relevant and productive. Singhal admitted that the company is rethinking the search engine box, especially now that consumers need different search options, depending on their situation and device.

As an example, Singhal said a user would not be using voice search when in the library and would not want to type in the search engine when they’re out walking the dog. To that end, the VP said that Google Now, the program’s personal assistant, will help with Google mobile search. Of course, Google Now will be competing against other assistants like Siri and the Cortana.

Google search will also be getting help from the Accelerated Mobile Pages, which will make webpages load quicker. While it might sound similar to Facebook’s Instant Articles, it’s not just bound to news articles.

The rise in mobile search also means that Google has to adapt and tweak its mobile search result and landing pages to make it more productive. It already had made changes, with trial runs being done on Buy buttons and the addition of the “Slow to Load” warning.

The company is also reportedly trying to help webmasters to come up with better and more responsive designs for their pages to make them mobile-ready. With search on mobile devices becoming the norm, company web pages should be optimized so that load time is minimized, content is clear, and succinct and the corresponding images or media are loading properly.

The dominance of smartphone users also means that social media will play heavily in mobile searches, which is why Google has also started to show tweets in mobile search results. So companies also have to make sure that they also take advantage of this by having their own social media profile.

[Image by Adam Berry, Getty Images]