Mobile vs Desktop Internet Usage Statistics 2022: Why Mobile Optimization is More Important Than Ever

David Adamick
01 July 2022
9 min read

A Decade of Mobile Traffic Growth

If you’re concerned about how your website’s performance on mobile devices may be affecting your business, here’s a statistic to justify that concern: in 2011, mobile phone internet usage accounted for only 6% of global internet traffic. In 2022, that 6% is… 55%. 

To put that statistic another way, as of January 2022, the volume of internet traffic going through mobile devices for the first time overtook what had since been a volume dominated by desktop users. 

To put it another way again, with this trend in mobile traffic as it is, never has customer mobile UX been more crucial to the well-being of an online business’s revenue. 

This 50% increase in mobile usage not only signifies a shift in how we access the internet for our day-to-day requirements, but also the mounting importance of optimum user experience design and how marketing budgets are being reconsidered in relation to improving that experience. 

In a previous post, we investigated the considerable commercial returns properly researched and developed user experience can provide an online business – as well as the considerable disadvantages a business can suffer when it hasn’t one.

Mobile vs Desktop Contents

So let’s take a more detailed look at how this translates in the world of mobile devices and how responsive web design there is now more important than ever.  

We'll cover the following:

  • Mobile vs Desktop Internet Usage Statistics

  • Mobile vs Desktop Search Statistics

  • Mobile vs Desktop Statistics by Market Sector

  • Mobile vs Desktop Ecommerce Revenues/Conversion Rates

  • Mobile Website Marketing 

  • Keywords/SEO/Website Ranking

  • Social Media Stats

  • Google Mobile-First Indexing

Mobile vs Desktop Internet Usage: General Stats

For starters, over the past 5 years, the time consumers spend on mobile phones has increased by almost 25%, which, in the US alone, means adults are now spending an average of 4 hours a day on a device. 

In one year alone, mobile-generated traffic has increased by over 10%. 

Globally speaking, 4 of the 4.5 billion who make up the active internet population, browse the internet via mobile phone, with the rate of device ownership continuing to rise. These days, more people are getting mobile devices than they are desktops. 

Currently, the ownership proportion of mobile devices stands at 56%, with 42% and 2% for desktop devices and tablets respectively. 

Which contributes significantly to the 100K Google searches that are made by this population every second. 

Such that 55% of all page views come by way of mobile phones. 

Still, the average time spent on a website is longer for desktop users (56%) than it is with mobile usage since desktop devices continue to offer a more in-depth user experience. 

Source: Broadbandsearch.net

Mobile vs Desktop Usage: Search Statistics

Although nearly 60% of all search queries come from mobile devices (claims Google), interestingly, the device itself can also determine how and what people search for. This also affects the actual number of searches a user will do. 

What’s more, the use of a mobile device may result in differing search results than those generated through desktop usage. 

Mobile users will tend to make locally-focused searches whereas desktop usage tends toward more general queries.

Semrush claims that shorter visits paid to websites via mobile are owing to the shortening of user attention span and thus suggests an increasing difficulty in customer engagement, whereas others cite improved site optimization that facilitates a quicker conversion rate. 

Mobile vs Desktop Statistics by Market Sector

Trending industries for mobile users

So who, more specifically, is getting all this attention from mobile phones and who is more favoured by laptop users? In global terms, here’s how the 2020 stats were trending:

Source: Perficient.com

Mobile vs Desktop: MCommerce vs. ECommerce

Faster eCommerce growth rates with mobile devices

When considering the growing importance of UX, the very emergence of the term ‘mCommerce’ is a case in point. For online business owners, the statistics linked to it are the nitty-gritty of many marketing budget considerations. Ones that contribute increasingly to many of the current eCommerce trends to watch

Particularly when you consider that average smartphone conversion rates are up 64% compared to those for desktops.

This is why categories with the highest share of purchases by mobile users are also experiencing the fastest eCommerce growth rates. These rates tend to be cheaper for products such as video games, digital content, movies etc., and slower in more expensive categories such as computer software.

Desktop devices for final purchasing

Still, the retail conversion rate for desktops remains higher at just under 4% whereas, for mobile devices, it’s around 1.3%.

This illustrates how desktops are still more popular in the final purchasing phase once initial product research has been done via mobile. In this case, the importance for retailers to provide users with useful, personalized content on their mobile sites is obvious.

Furthermore, usage statistics suggest that mobile devices encourage the online purchasing of items less likely to have been previously. This is why it is so critical that online retailers minimize any procedural or purchasing hurdles that may exist via mobile internet usage. 

Mobile devices and search ad revenue

So here’s another one for you: mobile search ad revenue in the U.S. is expected to grow from $8.97 billion in 2015 to $21.55 billion in 2022. In the process, it will go past the U.S. desktop search ad revenue, which is expected to be at $19.8 billion in 2022.

Mobile devices are becoming a complement to brick-and-mortar stores. In a study of more than 2,400 omnichannel shoppers, 46% of those who researched product ratings or reviews before buying them offline do so on mobile phones.

Of those who compared prices prior to buying offline, 36% did so online. And 51% researched a product on mobile while in-store.

Mobile UX & Digital Marketing

So, considering the stats above, this is why marketers are increasingly driven to up the ante when it comes to establishing a fully responsive, robust online mobile experience. 

W has led to a decrease in bounce rates in mobile internet traffic. Between 2018 and 2020, for example, they were 3% higher than those of desktops; Semrush now claims that gap to have narrowed to a mere 0.2%

It has also resulted in an increase in expenditure on mobile search advertising. In the US alone, this spending rose from $14.17 billion in 2015 to $37.43 billion in 2020.

Phone-based CPCs (Cost Per Clicks) cost 24% less than desktops and have a 40% higher CTR (Click-through Rate).

Even still, mobile apps have higher engagement rates than mobile-optimized websites or desktop web viewing, and 100-300% higher conversion rates.

Website, Keyword and SERP Ranking: Desktop Devices vs Mobile Phones

Mobile SERPs

As for Google ranking, the landscape from desktop to mobile can change dramatically. Such that only 17% of websites hold their SERP positions in both. Moreover, 37% of URLs exited the top-10 when searched from a mobile device. 

URLs

Even more surprising, 33% of URLs disappeared altogether via mobile while 8% of domains vanished into thin air. 

Domains

And speaking of domains, 35% of first pages that rank for them on a query differ between desktop and phone SERPs.

Organic searching & keywords

As for organic searching, 62% show different results between mobile and desktop, and 79% of keywords also rank differently. Of these keywords, 47% of those ranking 1 to 20 also do so differently when searched between the two media. 

Social Media Stats for Desktop vs. Mobile

Given how much social media colossi have invested in their products, it’s hardly surprising that most social media communication is generated and consumed via mobile phones.

An 80% lion’s share thereof, to be more precise. A figure that can be broken down further: 95% of Facebook users, 86% of Twitter users and 60% of LinkedIn traffic.

Google Mobile-First Indexing

However, for the last five or six years, Google has been addressing such issues with their Mobile-first indexing. Online retailers, their webmasters, developers and SEOs should once again take note. 

Mobile-first indexing does what it says: it uses the mobile version of the content for indexing and ranking. Until now, the index primarily used the desktop version of a page's content when evaluating the relevance of a page to a user's query. 

However, as we’ve seen an increasing number of users now access Google Search with mobile devices, Googlebot primarily crawls and indexes pages with the smartphone agent.

In the fullness of time, Google expects its algorithms to use primarily the mobile version of a site's content to rank pages from that site, understand its structured data and show snippets from those pages in their results.

By as early as March of 2020, Google estimated that already, 70% of all websites had switched to mobile-first indexing. 

Tips for Switching to Mobile-First Indexing 

For any online business that wisely chooses to switch to mobile-first indexing, Google advises this business to ensure the following:

  • That Google can access and render its content

  • That this data be structured and identical on both desktop and mobile sites

  • Its metadata be the same for these formats

  • Ads are properly placed

  • Images and videos are high quality, share the same alt text for desktop devices and mobile and use supported formats

Conclusion

Time to optimize

At this point, it's pretty clear that the trend in mobile usage and mobile traffic will continue in its eclipse of desktop device usage.

This makes it all the more surprising that there are still businesses out there that have not sufficiently optimized their websites for the sort of user experience that mobile users will continue to demand. 

All individuals dedicated to the success of your online business must put this reality to the fore and it is imperative that your content and SEO strategy reflect it. Customers of those businesses which do not are sure to seek alternatives elsewhere.

How we can help

At Startup Development House, we can guide you toward this success. Whether it's through ideation workshops, usability testing, application development/maintenance or persona interviews, our expertise in all aspects of mobile app development will ensure the smoothest experience for your customers and help expand your potential market.

Want to find out more? Reach out to us at hello@start-up.house and let’s get into some heavy traffic.

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