Mobile Apps vs. Google: Google Still Comes Out On Top

GoogleIn the last 5 years, mobile has grown into a highly competitive market that compels businesses that want to thrive to develop elaborate mobile-specific strategies. With more than a billion mobile users, mobile is absolutely pervasive in modern society. A recent article in the New York Times caught my attention due to its surprising suggestion that the rise of mobile and particularly mobile apps poses a danger to the utter dominance of Google.

Especially within the SEO community, we all recognize the clout of Google. With around two-thirds of the search market under its control, Google is indisputably the powerhouse to beat. On a global level, Greg Sterling reports that Google’s mobile search market share is at a whopping 95%. Despite these impressive numbers, the mobile market does create a minor threat to Google.

Mobile search is certainly a more nuanced species than the traditional PC search. Mobile behavior differs from computer searches largely due to the popularity of apps. The app economy is prospering, as 80% of mobile time is spent on apps, according to Flurry Analytics. Apps create a tailored way for searchers to quickly find the information they want.

So why would apps be a threat to Google? 

Mobile apps create an expectation of customized search. For instance, Amazon lets you search for music or clothes while Google maps helps you find local restaurants and Facebook allows you to search for friends. This all seems like common sense, right?

The threat to Google comes from the fact that mobile searchers go directly to these apps instead of searching for “Amazon” or “Facebook” on Google. Apps let users go directly to the source, so they don’t need the search engine to direct them towards their favorite sites anymore. Not only do apps circumvent Google, but they also allow you to consume content from the web from within the app, which means you never even have to leave your apps!

Since apps are more specialized, it seems safe to assume that they are going to have more specific answers to your questions than Google. Searchers are increasingly interested in getting clear answers instead of a list of links. The thriving app economy is bursting with options that purportedly do exactly that.

However, Google is rapidly making changes in order to keep up. Last year Google debuted the knowledge graph, which uses semantic search to present answers that understand the unspoken connections that humans would make. Many Google SERPs now include specific answers instead of just links. For instance, searching for your favorite sports team might trigger a display of recent scores.

In addition, Google is tackling mobile by producing tons of mobile products. Larry Kim recently wrote an article that discusses Google’s bevy of mobile products. Some of these products are incredibly inventive, while others fall flat. The point, however, is that Google is definitely getting a share in the success mobile, no matter how many apps come out.

Do you think Google should be worried?

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Sarah Beth

Sarah Beth Wiltse earned her BA in English at Boston University. Though she currently lives in Dallas, TX, she spent a year in Paris, France after college, cultivating her love of the French language and a passion for travelling. She has spent much of her life developing her skills in the arts, primarily as a ballerina, violinist, and pianist - and now, a writer! Follow her on Twitter!

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