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Think You Know What People Are Searching For On That Smartphone?

If you’€™ve ever seen two people out to lunch these days, chances are they are sitting there quietly looking down at their cell phones, fingers swiping or pinching away at something on the screen, rather than engaging in conversation with one another. No, this is not an op-ed on the decline of real interaction between people as online social interaction rises. But, did you ever ask yourself, aside from the obvious text messaging and Facebook posts people are keeping up with on their phones, what exactly people are looking for when they search using their cellphone?

What Are People Searching For On The Web?According to Google’€™s Think Insights compiled statistics for 2012, the top three types of info searched for by mobile users fell into the categories of Arts/Entertainment (15%), News (12%), and General Knowledge (10%). Combined, those top three search categories accounted for almost half of all mobile searches. You can take that to mean people are trying to find out ways to entertain and occupy themselves on the go or, most likely, waiting in some long line or dull meeting somewhere.

Taking the #4 and #5 spots were Shopping and Food searches, respectively, with 7% each. While search advertisers like to think that the potential mobile customer is using their lunch break to browse their on-line catalog or search for the nearest pizza place, these kinds of consumer-oriented searches only amount to 14% of interactions.
Of course, you then have all the other topics mobile users searched for in the minority brackets, such as info on technology (6%), health care (6%), restaurants (4%), navigation (4%), finance (4%), beauty (3%), and travel.

Mobile Searches Are Driven By ConvinienceWhat is the appeal of using mobile search over more traditional, sit-behind-a-desk kind of searches? According to Google’s survey data, 81% of people use mobile purely for the convenience of it, while only 12% said they simply had no other option available for finding information. What does that mean for those appealing to searchers that could be potential customers? If they are using it for convenience sake, then you need to make sure your web site is convenient as well. A fast page load time, large touch-screen friendly buttons and a responsive web design are all must-haves in today’s mobile-driven search world.

Insights On Current Mobile Search Trends

Now, you might think that most of these mobile searches are done during the work day by distracted employees trying to pass the time. Actually, according to Google, a large percentage (up to 75%) of mobile searches are done in the afternoon and evening, and not the work day (unless, of course, you are on a long night shift!) contrary to popular belief. While statistically impossible to prove without another large scale survey, it would probably be a safe assumption these searches are going on during commercial breaks and downtime during TV programs.

Let us know what you think. What are some of your experiences with why you use mobile search over more traditional options? What do you spend most of your time searching for on that smartphone of yours?

Written By

Dan Sem is a photographer, web developer, inbound marketing director and owner of a small US-based tech firm serving business clientele in the transportation, logistics, technology, housing, and healthcare sectors.



  1. Mohit Rajwani

    September 29, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    I have ordered one smartphone i.e. Nokia Lumia 625.Any review of you on this ?

  2. Dan Sem

    September 30, 2013 at 5:43 am

    Hi! Thanks for reading through the article. No, I haven’t personally reviewed the Nokia Lumia 625, there is a review on this site at: /2013/04/a-review-of-nokia-lumia-series/ of the Nokia Lumia series, may be a good place to start!

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