Dean Marsden

Has 2012 been the Year of Mobile and what will 2013 Hold?

3rd Dec 2012 SEO Blog, Mobile Search 5 minutes to read

Girl With Mobile Smart PhoneIf I had a link from the BBC every time I heard the phrase “this is the year of Mobile” I’d be a very happy SEO. For the past few years, predictions on the state of Mobile marketing and growth have been pretty impressive and indeed Mobile usage has rocketed during this time period but have conversions from Mobile visitors followed suit? Let’s take a look at what 2012 has delivered (or hasn’t delivered) on Mobile devices.

Device Usage

Around half UK mobile users own a smartphone, this equates to 28 million people. Most of these allow full access to the internet. Alongside the increase in usage, connection availability and speeds have grown to deliver a better experience for mobile users. In 2011, global Mobile data usage was eight times the size of global internet usage in the year 2000.

Mobile Search

In 2010, Google declared itself a ‘Mobile first’ company, this means their websites and tools are tested on mobile devices first. It’s this sort of drive that has helped Google achieve a good standing in the area of mobile search. There is evidence though that mobile users are tending to use Apps to find certain information such as train times, movies listings or even restaurants. There are Apps for pretty much everything these days.

Google has publicly stated that it’s losing out to Apps and the information they provide. Apps are ‘closed’ and Google can’t crawl that information.  They have also admitted that the average Cost per Click for search results as a whole (desktop and mobile devices) has fallen over the past four quarters, meaning their revenues have suffered slightly. This has been due to the lower Cost per Click of mobile advertising (which is typical of the past few years) but also due to other factors. Google is losing revenues from Mobile search specifically,  but for what they are losing out in that they are potentially making up in revenues from the Google Play App, music and video sales.

Despite some concerns from Google and Microsoft on the revenue from Mobile search, users are utilising it more and more. In the retail industry, 16% of search queries came from mobile search for the first half of 2012. In 2011 it was just 11%. Similarly, the Travel industry saw 19% of search queries to their websites from mobile search in the first half of 2012 but only 11% in 2011. That’s good year on year growth.

Local searches on mobile devices saw 89% of users follow up with some kind of action according to recent study. For example, 51% called a business or service, 25% made an in-store purchase and 49% looked up a business or service on a map.

Figures for mobile search usage tend to be higher during holiday periods compared to normal working days, as people are more likely to be using a mobile device instead of being sat in front of a computer. It’s these sorts of changes that Search Marketers have noticed more in 2012 and have been keen to adapt for the future.

Facebook, Twitter and Apps

In June of this year Facebook announced it had 543 million monthly  active users for its Mobile products. Twitter CEO Dick Costolo stated that 40% of all tweets sent are from a mobile device. There has been the most significant updates to the Facebook and Twitter Apps to date in 2012. Facebook also purchased Instagram for a cool $300 million. The mobile only photo sharing service had recently turned one year old when the deal was done. In that time Instagram racked up over 25 million users.

Other Mobile-only apps such as Draw Something gained one million users in just 9 days, compare this to Facebook which took 9 months to get the same number or even AOL which took 9 years. Mobile services seem to get popular a lot quicker due to their accessibility. People can download and sign up for things as soon as they are recommended or shared.

Mobile Commerce

According to eDigitalResearch and Portaltech, 64% of Smartphone users are shopping online with their mobiles. Mobile commerce has come a long way in the past year. eBay now sees a sale from a Mobile device every 2 seconds, accounting for over 15% of all eBay sales. Some users aren’t even scared to buy big, how about spending £218,000 on a Lamborghini sports car amongst the other purchases.

Businesses have been investing heavily in Mobile websites in 2012. There are a lot that still haven’t worked on a Mobile site, perhaps unaware at the high percentage of Mobile users they already receive for their desktop site. Let’s take a look at some of the those websites.


Examples of Mobile websites launched in 2012


asda mobile website

Carphone Warehourse

carphone warehouse mobile warehouse


lakeland mobile website

Majestic Wine

majestic wine mobile website

Examples of websites without a Mobile wesbite in 2012


apple website on a mobile device


lidl website on a mobile device


ryanair website on a mobile device

Cath Kidston

cath kidston website on a mobile device

So was 2012 the year of Mobile?

I’m going to say yes! We have a winner, 2012 has been the year of mobile in my opinion. When you look how far Mobile hardware, usage and promotion has come in 2012 it’s been far greater than previous years. I’m not saying that 2013 isn’t going to be the year of Mobile either, but when Facebook spend $300m on a mobile-only platform just over one year old and with 25 million users you know mobile has gotten serious attention.

What do you think? Remember to add your comments at the end of this post.

2013 Mobile Predictions

4G connections are being rolled out across the UK in the last quarter of 2012 and updated devices have recently been launched to utilise these services. As more and more of these devices are bought, mobile data usage is likely to grow much more. It is predicted that global mobile internet usage will overtake desktop computer internet usage by 2015.

In 2013 I anticipate users are likely to consume more streaming media on their devices, but more importantly mobile search will drive more visits to websites and in particular mobile ecommerce will grow more. The bridge between in-store shopping and mobile shopping needs to be narrowed if retailers are going to survive increased competition from e-tailers. This has already seen good success in 2012 with mobile websites offering access to vouchers/coupons to tempt them into stores. Services such as Footfall 123 offer smaller businesses the opportunity to compete with the larger brands an publish offers via social media. Footfall 123 has just won £1.7 million in Series A funding so I expect to see better mobile targeting for users in 2013.

Image Credit: Girl With Mobile Smart Phone from Bigstock

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