For the last decade, mobile devices have slowly taken the top spot as the preferred search platform. It’s convenient, literally at your fingertips. Websites have been adapted to them. And online marketing has become obsessed with making sure mobile devices of all kinds are targeted.
And then COVID-19 happened.
Shares and stocks plummeted pensions finds wiped out in less than 6 weeks. Forex and Currencies has never been this unstable since 9/11.
Every industry has been affected, some more so than others. Digital marketing has not been spared, and while we handle the fallout that we are all experiencing, by changing some of the ways we do marketing, one thing has stood out from the data.
Desktop search is reclaiming its status as King.
It is not all that surprising that desktop search has made a remarkable resurgence, given that everyone is at home. Mobile devices are fantastic for those who are constantly on the move, but COVID-19 has proven that in many ways, mobile is not the first choice when users have other options.
Mobile devices have a number of advantages, but when compared to the desktop, their disadvantages far outweigh their advantages. Desktop computers are easier to use and the screens are so much easier to read. There is no struggling with difficult to navigate menus, no trouble with videos that automatically load and consume copious amounts of data, and no problems with being unable to read the content because it is now blown up on a bigger screen.
Desktop computers are also immensely convenient in that when the user is already working on their PC, they can simultaneously search without the worry about their online activity being monitored. In the office, there is also the possibility that certain search queries or access to certain websites can be blocked. Again, this is not an issue that those working from home on their own desktops need to worry about.
Then there is the limitless use of data. Most of those who are working from home during this time will have home internet which is often uncapped. In South Africa, where mobile data is outrageously expensive, data is generally used sparingly. With uncapped internet at home, searchers can browse the web as much as they like, watch videos, and find the exact information they are looking for, in order to make a more informed decision. And more importantly, they can truly take their time.
Overall, it doesn’t require much thinking to realise exactly why desktop is enjoying more popularity now than it has in years.
More than convenience
The shift to desktop that marketers and search engines have picked up goes far beyond the benefits of having access to a desktop computer and being able to Google anything.
There has been an interesting change in what type of content people are consuming as well.
As expected, entertainment such as online streaming platforms, YouTube and social media are enjoying a boom in interest as people seek out ways to spend their days. The search for news, science related topics and tips for being more productive have also enjoyed a noticeable increase as users are quickly adapting to working from home and looking for ways to improve the way they do their work in a new space.
Along with the increase in these areas, searchers are also looking for information relating to family and parents.
This information can help marketers adapt their campaigns and it is also just interesting to see how the pandemic is changing the way we find information and the type of information we look for. The question that really needs to be asked is not why desktop search is so popular right now, but whether the trend will last beyond the Coronavirus lockdown.
At the moment, there are many digital marketing companies that have already been managing desktop and mobile marketing in separate campaigns, to maximise their reach. If this is what you or your marketing company is already doing, then whether or not the trend shifts back shouldn’t make a massive difference. What should be done in this case, is that campaigns, especially paid ad campaigns, should be adjusted accordingly to maximise gains.
Search behaviour is always changing and evolving. And when people go back to the office, mobile usage will quite likely surge once again. After all, people are attached to their mobile devices and old habits die hard.
Like most things in marketing, the question of whether or not the current trend will shift is not so black and white.
There is also the possibility that many won’t go back to the office. This is not to say people are going to lose their jobs, but rather that the company owners will see the benefits of remote working.
And then there is the fact that the legacy of COVID-19 is going to linger. So office spaces might not be a viable place to return, and besides, if an office isn’t needed, companies can save on rent.
For those who do head back to an office, mobile search will rise again, but the return to mobile will be accompanied by certain changes. For instance, habits like ordering groceries online, might now be done via a mobile device.
The Way Forward
As we move out of the lockdown and begin heading back to work, SEO marketers should consider prioritising both desktop and mobile search, to ensure that their clients reach as many people as possible. This way, they will enjoy the best of both works.