How Google is aggressively monetizing the mobile search space

The future of search?

From “Don’t Be Evil” to “Monetize Everything” in less than a decade.

Mobile search is different to desktop search in many ways, but the most significant is that it “came along later”.

At the very end of the 20th century, Google created a search engine powerhouse by making search better than the competition. They outplayed the competition at the time, Alta Vista and Yahoo, by de-cluttering the search experience, removing ads and speeding up the whole search process. There were, for quite a few years, no signs of monetization of the vast reach they had achieved.

By the turn of the century, the old guard was overhauled – all the while Google sang the “don’t be evil” tune to universal praise and adulation. As Google moved into becoming a data company the shine started to come away, today Google is no longer on “your side” and they don’t sing the same tune today – “Do no evil” is officially dead.

About the same time along came mobile. This time Google was free of the shackles of having to compete for their lunch, or even be “nice” anymore – they were free to flex their technological marketplace muscles to make money. So they crafted a search experience focussed around control and monetisation.

Mobile search accounts for 60% of searches in 2016, and that’s only set to grow as desktop/laptop usage by the upcoming generations fall away. Access to the internet has become a mobile thing and it looks very different. The first screens on a Google mobile search are all adverts, the second page is (usually) Google Local Business Entries.

What happened to good old-fashioned natural search? Well, it’s got pushed down to the third screen. In the old desktop days, a top 3 SERPS position was worth its weight in gold – in fact, lots of companies built their business model around the “free” listings that Google gave away. That’s a harder game these days, and with fewer players.

Is mobile SEO dead?

Quite clearly no. But the world has changed, and you do need to rely on other traffic channels if you want to thrive in the online space. And remember, Google might dominate but doesn’t own the search space – other players have appeared including Facebook and DuckDuckGo, and more entry points into the Internet appear all the time.

However, if your traffic strategy revolves around getting “first-page listings” on Google search then not only is your job harder on mobile but the pickings are getting ever slimmer. You have been warned.