Recent data shows that, as of February 2016 at least in the US, desktop search rankings peaked in 2013, with no sign of this trend reversing. This data is provided by comScore, which has declined to release its data for mobile searches in February 2016 as of this writing.
The data shows that from 2009 to the time as of this writing in 2016, desktop searches peaked in 2013. Since that point, they have gradually dipped further and further. Google’s own claims state that as of October 2015, mobile searches have even surpassed desktop searches.
The relevant data also indicates the popularity of various search engines on the desktop platform. For February 2016, Google claimed 64% of all desktop searches; Microsoft and Bing, in second, claimed 21.4%. Yahoo sits at an unfortunate 12.5%, while Ask at 1.7% and AOL at 0.9% round out the bottom rung.
This tells us about the relative importance of these search engines when considering whose rankings to appeal to most. Google’s metrics are still the most important by far, but optimising for Bing can also improve a business’s web traffic, at least on desktops.
Looking into the future, comScore’s data also states how much each search engine’s share of the market has changed on desktops, relative to January. The changes are 0.2% or less in all cases, with Ask having reduced -0.1% (down from 1.8%) in January, Yahoo reporting the largest loss at -0.2% (down from 12.7%), and both Google and Microsoft gaining 0.2% and 0.1% respectively. AOL shows no change, indicating that its near-1% market share may be here to stay.
Overall, the most important finding from comScore’s data is the number of searches: desktop search queries having peaked in 2013, which indicates a downward trend that merely peaked last year with mobile search queries surpassing those on desktops. In other words, mobile searches are the most important share of the market, and will only continue to grow more in importance.
Web designers and SEO experts are obligated to take into account this change in the Internet landscape, with better mobile website design and more mobile-friendly text creation. The downward trend experienced by bandwidth-heavy loading pages, large images, and heavyweight video advertisements (to a lesser degree) can also be expected to continue, as the mobile Internet partially replaces, rather than supplements, the pages people read on desktops.