Did you know that Ranker is one of the top 100 web destinations for mobile per Quantcast, ahead of household names like The Onion and People magazine? We are ranked #520 in the non-mobile world. Why do we do better with mobile users as opposed to people using a desktop computer? I’ve made this argument for awhile, but I’m hardly an authority, so I was heartened to see Google making a similar argument.
This embrace of mobile computing impacts search behavior in a number of important ways.
First, it makes the process of refining search queries much more tiresome. …While refining queries is never a great user experience, on a mobile device (and particularly on a mobile phone) it is especially onerous. This has provided the search engines with a compelling incentive to ensure that the right search results are delivered to users on the first go, freeing them of laborious refinements.
Second, the process of navigating to web pages (is) a royal pain on a hand-held mobile device.
This situation provides a compelling incentive for the search engines to circumvent additional web page visits altogether, and instead present answers to queries – especially straightforward informational queries – directly in the search results. While many in the search marketing field have suggested that the search engines have increasingly introduced direct answers in the search results to rob publishers of clicks, there’s more than a trivial case to be made that this is in the best interest of mobile users. Is it really a good thing to compel an iPhone user to browse to a web page – which may or may not be optimized for mobile – and wait for it to load in order to learn the height of the Eiffel Tower?
As a result, if you ask your mobile phone for the height of a famous building (Taipei 101 in the below case), it doesn’t direct you to a web page. Instead it answers the question itself.
That’s great for a question that has a single answer, but an increasing number of searches are not for objective facts with a single answer, but rather for subjective opinions where a ranked list is the best result. Consider the below chart showing the increase in searches for the term “best”. A similar pattern can be found for most any adjective.
So if consumers are increasingly doing searches on mobile phones, requiring a concise list of potential answers to questions with more than one answer, they naturally are going to end up at sites which have ranked lists…like Ranker. As such, a lot of Ranker’s future growth is likely to parallel the growth of mobile and the growth of searches for opinion based questions.
- Ravi Iyer