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SEO News: Understanding the Complex Use of Multiple Devices

Written by Paul Steinbrueck

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It’s been a couple years now since mobile searches surpassed desktop searches. We’ve been emphasizing the importance of mobile-friendly website design not only for the sake of your visitors but also because websites that are not mobile friendly are penalized and given lower search rankings in Google’s mobile search results.

Desktop in Decline?

With so much emphasis on mobile users, you might think desktop computer usage is on its way out, but that’s not true at all.

In fact, while the number of mobile searches continues to increase, desktop searches have been holding steady. And while there has been strong growth in purchase made on mobile devices, Comscore recently reported a 12% increase in e-commerce spending from desktop computers for the November-December 2016 holiday season.

It’s Complicated

What’s changing is that many people use multiple devices when doing online research. While most of the studies done on device usage have focused on purchasing decisions, it’s safe to assume people are also using multiple devices to research churches, schools and ministries as well.

Microsoft’s Bing showed how mobile and desktop usage varies by time of day.

Device usage by time of day

eMarketer showed how desktop and mobile purchases compare in different categories of products.

desktop vs mobile sales conversions

What the research shows is that while people will often do their initial research on a phone or tablet, the bigger and more complicated the transaction, the more likely they are to make the final transaction on a desktop computer.

Why Does this Matter?

Here are 4 specific reasons this matters:

1) It’s important to know your audience


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As we see from the eMarketer chart above, whether mobile or desktop is more important to your organization depends significantly on what type of organization you are. Because people aren’t making a transaction when searching for a church, people are more likely to do that search on a mobile device. Although the age of the people connecting in your church will also have a big impact on mobile vs desktop use. If your organization is a school and parents of prospective students are asked to fill out a long application form online, it’s far more likely they’ll do that on a computer even if they do some of their research on a mobile device.

It’s important to keep in mind, however, these are just generalizations. Ultimately, if you want to better understand your audience, look at your analytics and see what percentage of your visitors, applicants, leads, customers, etc are coming using mobile devices vs desktop computers.

2) It’s important to ask people how they first found you

If you rely on Google Analytics or other online data tell you where your new customers/students/church visitors are coming from, you may not get the whole picture. A person could discover your site initially through a search on their phone, but later when they’re on their computer they might go directly to your site and make a purchase. Online data would attribute the source of the sale to “direct” when they really found you through an online search. The only way to know the true source is to ask people.

3) It’s important to get email addresses

When people do their research on multiple devices, it means they’re going to visit your website for a bit, stop their research, and then come back to it some time later. When they pick up their research later, there is no guarantee they’re going to find your site again. The best way to increase the odds that they’ll come back to your site is to capture their email address the first time they visit. The best way to do this is by showing a popup on your site which offers to send the visitor useful information if they enter their email address.

4) Mobile-friendly sites and mobile search rule

Even though 80% of purchases are still made on desktop computers, more people do more searches from mobile devices than desktop computers. Your best shot with someone new is to connect with them early in the decision making processes, so you want to rank well in mobile search results and give them a good experience on your website.

What are your thoughts on the complex use of mobile devices? Post a comment below and discuss.

And if getting more visitors to your site from search engines would help you live out your mission online, let’s schedule a free call to discuss Christian/church SEO services.

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About the author

Paul Steinbrueck

Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck.


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