Mobile Estimated to Represent More Than 4 in 10 US Organic Search Visits

January 27, 2015

RKG-Mobile-Share-US-Organic-Search-Traffic-Q32013-Q42014-Jan2015More than 42% of US organic search visits to US sites in Q4 2014 came from mobile devices, up from 31% share during the year-earlier period, details RKG Digital [download page] in its latest quarterly digital marketing report, which covers a cross-section of industry clients, though leans towards retailers. The study notes that iOS devices’ share of mobile search traffic has declined, although they retain a commanding lead over Android devices. Indeed, iOS devices contributed twice as much organic search traffic share (27% share) as did Android devices (13%).

Among the top search engines, Yahoo was again the most influenced by mobile devices in Q4, as in each quarter of 2014. For the first time, half of Yahoo’s organic search traffic came from mobile devices, with mobile’s share of Google search traffic at 43%. Bing remained further behind, at 28% share.

For the quarter, organic search comprised 35% of site traffic, down a point from the same time during the year-earlier period.

The study notes that social media’s share of traffic to retailers’ sites has grown, although it remains fractional in comparison, at 2.4% in Q4. However, RKG notes that “the share of traffic being bucketed as social is depressed by ‘dark social’ visits, which are visits from social media in which the proper referrer string is not passed, leading to incorrect attribution.” Of the social visits tracked, 52% came from mobile devices, the first time mobile has broken the majority threshold in that area.

Meanwhile, mobile’s share of paid search clicks (with this data more heavily skewed towards retail clients) reached 39% in Q4 2014, with smartphones contributing a slightly higher percentage (21%) than tablets (18%). That overall figure was slightly higher on Google, which saw 40% of its paid search clicks coming from mobile devices. But mobile devices’ revenue-per-click remained significantly below desktops, particularly the case with smartphones (67% lower).

In other search-related news:

  • By RKG’s estimates, Yahoo’s deal in late November to be the default search engine on the latest version of the Mozilla Firefox browser will result in roughly 2% or less of total paid search traffic shifting from Google to Yahoo;
  • Yahoo/Bing captured 26.3% of US search spending in Q4, per IgnitionOne’s latest quarterly report, although RKG’s study puts Google’s share of US paid search spend at 83.2%;
  • Globally, search ad click-through rates grew by 11% year-over-year in Q4, says Kenshoo, which also tracked a 14% increase in paid search spend (RKG and IgnitionOne also noted increases in Q4 search spend); and
  • Google led all search engines with 65.4% share of US explicit core search queries from desktop computers in December 2014, according to comScore, with that figure down from 67% the previous month. Yahoo picked up those 1.6 points, increasing from 10.2 to 11.8% share of explicit core searches.

[Editor’s Note: Please note that this article has been updated to better clarify that the retail representation in the varying data sets.]

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