Desktop vs Mobile: Who Is Winning The Search Race?

Since the global boom of smartphones and smart devices, consumer behaviour has rapidly changed in such a short span.


According to Google, we’re in the era of “research-obsessed consumers”, and smartphones have given consumers the power to find for themselves the “best decision” they can make when purchasing goods and services in real time.


“As we look at the search trends that defined 2017 one thing becomes clear: we’re officially in the era of the research-obsessed consumer. With a smartphone in hand, people can get the answers they need to make the right purchase decision anytime, anywhere.”


But before the emergence of mobile search index and mobile-friendly websites, desktop and laptop devices dominated the search race and is still a dominant player in search. Since we’re in the early stages of the paradigm shift from desktop to hand-held devices, let’s take a look at who is winning the “search engine race”.





When it comes to search behaviour, there’s a significant difference in how people use desktop search and mobile search. This difference was seen by TechTarget:


“The types of information that users search for on mobile devices is typically different from computer-based searches. Users are much more likely to be conducting local searches for information specific to the area they’re connecting from. Other mobile searches are generally seeking quick results, such as sports scores, rather than extensive content about a given subject.”


Since mobile devices are portable and almost everyone has on in their pockets, it’s a valid observation that people use mobile search for quick and short information as opposed to doing in-depth and long research.


And today’s consumers, according to Google, are “more impatient, more demanding, and more curious”. They’ve become so impatient that most website visitors will leave if the page doesn’t load within 3-6 seconds.


An impatient consumer base who are hungry for information + a handheld device in their pocket? I think for this category, we have a clear winner: Mobile search.


Mobile 1 – Desktop 0



Search Queries

Of course, it’s not enough to see the changing behaviour of consumers – we also need to see how search queries have changed thanks to the rise of mobile search.


The shift in consumer behaviour has also shown a significant change in the search queries logged in on search engines, with a huge increase in search for words like “best” and reviews”.


According to Google, there’s at least an 80% increase in search with the word “best” from the past two years, showing that consumers are looking into search engines for quick and honest advice to their problems and questions instead of heavy research like in the past.


Also, consumers no longer use search for just big-ticket items like cars or houses, they use search even for small items like ”best” T-shirts or table salt. In the past two years, search for “best” mobile searches for water bottles increased by 165%.


Search engine queries have drastically changed in the past few years, all because of the availability of search-on-the-go. For this category, it’s clear that mobile has changed the paradigm of search queries. So this category goes to mobile.


Mobile 2 – Desktop 0




Finally, let’s see which device leads the search engine race in terms of usage. Because mobile devices are portable and small, there is a big gap in processing power between a desktop and a mobile device. And with many websites available on the net still not adapting a mobile-friendly website, desktop devices still have a competitive edge against mobile devices.



But the lack of a mobile-friendly website has not stopped people from accessing the internet and conducting their search queries from their phones. According to Google, “Mobile searches surpassed desktop searches in 2015,” showing that mobile’s convenience and portability is its greatest advantage in the search race.


This round goes to Mobile.


Mobile 3 – Desktop 0



And The Winner Is…

Given the criteria above and the points raised, it’s an obvious win that mobile has already taken over the desktop in the search engine race.


While the desktop is still competitive in terms of usage because of its processing power, it won’t be long until mobile devices surpass the performances of at least the current generation desktops.


If you’re a business owner trying to enter the online marketing arena, we hope this information will help you make a well-informed decision on what’s the best action you can take for your digital marketing effort. And so you can equip yourself properly by hiring a team of SEO specialists to help you with your digital marketing efforts.