Needless to say, we are becoming increasingly complex in our daily work and the answers to our questions are as clear as mud. According to the Mobile First Index of 2018 and with more searchers at home and not on the move, we wonder where to focus our optimization efforts. Is the desktop the most important? Is mobile? What about the voice phenomenon that is now part of our daily lives?

As with most things, the most important thing to consider is your audience. People aren't limited to a single device – neither should your optimization strategy be. In this informative Whiteboard Friday, Dr. Pete shared our concerns about a cross-platform world, highlighting the need to optimize for a journey rather than a point of touch.

Desktop, Mobile or Voice? All of the above.

Click the whiteboard image above to open a high resolution version in a new tab!

Video transcription

Hi Guys. It's Dr. Pete here from Moz. I'm the marketing scholar here and I came here from Chicago just for you good people to talk to about something I think we're a little worried about, especially with the recent roll out of the mobile index, and that's the question: should We optimize for desktop, mobile or voice? I think the answer is (d) all of the above. I know this might sound a little scary and you're wondering how to do it. I want to talk to you about some of the goings-on, some of our mobile and language misconceptions, and some of the ways this might be a little easier than you think, at least to get started.

The mistakes we make

First off, I think we're making a couple of mistakes. When we talk about mobile devices for the past few years, we tend to look at our analytics and do that. These are made up. The green numbers are compound or the blue ones. We say, "Okay, about 90% of my traffic is from the desktop, about 10% is from the cell phone, and nothing comes from speech. So I'll keep focusing on the desktop and not worrying about those other two experiences, and I'm fine there are two problems:

Self-fulfilling prophecy

One of them is that these numbers are some kind of self-fulfilling prophecy. They may not get to your mobile website. You may not get these mobile visitors as your mobile experience is terrible. People come in and it's lousy and they don't come back. In the case of voice, we may not yet receive this data. We have very little data. So that doesn't mean anything to us. All of this may tell us that on the phone we are doing a really bad job and people have given up. We have seen that with Moz in the past. We didn't get used to cell phones as quickly as we maybe should have. We saw that in the numbers and argued about it because we said, "You know what? This doesn't really tell us what the opportunity is or what our customers or users want. It just tells us what we're doing well or right now bad now, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. "


The other mistake I think we are making is the idea that these are three different audiences. There are people who come to our site on the desktop, people who come to our site on their cell phones, people who come to our site by voice, and these are three different groups of people. I think this is incredibly wrong and that leads to some very bad ideas and some bad tactical decisions and some bad decisions.

So I want to share some stats. There was a study by Google called The Multiscreen World, and that was almost six years ago, in 2012. They found six years ago that 65% of searchers started a search on their smartphones. Two thirds of searchers started using smartphones six years ago. Sixty percent of these searches continued on a desktop or laptop. This was also six years, so we know that the adoption rate of cell phones has increased. So these are not people who only use desktop or only mobile. These are people on a search journey moving between devices, and I think it's more like that in the real world right now.

Another statistic from the series was that 88% of people said they used their smartphone and television at the same time. It's not shocking to you. You are sitting in front of the television with your phone and in front of the television with your laptop. You could be sitting in front of the TV with a smartwatch. These devices are being used at the same time, and we are doing more searches and using more devices. So one of these things does not replace the other.

The cross-device journey

So a trip could look like this. You watch TV. You see an ad and hear something. You see a video that you like. You go to your phone while looking at it and search for it for more information. Later, go to your laptop and do a little research. You want the bigger screen to see what's going on. Then the next day at the office you say, "Oh, I'm going to pull up this bookmark. I wanted to check something on my desktop, where I have more bandwidth or something." They say, "Oh, maybe I better not buy this at work. I don't want to get in trouble. So I go home and go back to my laptop and buy this." So this purchase and transaction is a visitor on this chain, and I think we are doing this a lot right now, and that will only increase as we operate between devices and this journey is cross-device.

The challenge I would give you is to have you look at this and say, "Only that many percent of our users are mobile. Our mobile experience doesn't matter. It doesn't matter that much. We." can only live with the desktop people. That's enough. We'll make enough money. "If you're really on that journey and you're not that segmented and this chain, break it, what happens? You lose that person completely, and that was a person who used desktop too. So that person could be someone 90% of the time you got through, but she never really got the device of your choice and she never got the transaction because you broke the chain with a lousy mobile experience. I want you to know that this is the is cross-device travel and not these segmented ideas.

Future points of contact

That’s getting worse. It will be more scary for us. So look to the future. We'll sit in our car and we'll listen – I still listen to CDs in the car, I know it's kind of sad – but you'll be listening to satellite radio or your Wi-Fi or whatever you come in and say, you listen to a podcast, or you hear a writer and you say, "Oh, that person sounds interesting. I want to know more about them." You tell your smartwatch, "Save this search. Tell me about this author. Give me your books." Then you go home and you go on Google Home and do that search and it says, "Oh, you know what? I have a video. I can't play this because I'm obviously a voice searcher, but I can do this on yours Cast TV to Chromecast. "So you send that to your TV and watch this. While you were watching TV, you took out your phone and said, "Oh, I'd love to buy this." You go to Amazon and complete this transaction.

So it took this whole chain of devices. Now what about the voice part of this chain again? This may not seem important to you right now, but if you break the chain there, that whole transaction is gone. I think the danger is in neglecting parts of it and not seeing that this is a journey across devices. We may be at much more risk than we think.

On the positive side

I also want to look at the positive side of that. All of these devices are points of contact on the journey and give us credibility. A few years ago we found something interesting at Moz: our sale as a SaaS product took an average of three points of contact. People didn't just go to the Moz homepage, do a free trial, and then buy it. You might see a whiteboard on Friday. You could read our beginner's guide. You could go to the blog. You could join the community. If they hit us with three points of contact, the chances of them converting are much higher.

I think the great thing about this trip is that when you are at all of these touchpoints, even though it seems like a single search to you, it gives you credibility. They were there when they did the search on that device. They were there when they tried to repeat that voice search. The information was in this video. You are part of this mobile search. You are on this desktop search. The more times they see you on this chain, the more you seem like a credible source. I think that can actually be good for us.

The SEO challenge

I think the challenge is, "Well, I can't hire a language team and a mobile team and design all of these things. I don't want to create a language app. I don't." I have the budget. I don't have a buy-in. " It's good.
One thing that I think is really great right now and that we encourage experimentation, we've talked a lot about featured snippets. We've talked about these answer fields that will give you an organic result. One of the things Google is trying to do with it is realizing that they need to use the same core engine and skill set on all devices. The search engine that drives the search should run on a television. You'll want this to run on a laptop, desktop, phone, clock, or goggle home. You don't want to write algorithms for all of these things.

So Google thinks of its whole world in maps. You may not see this on the desktop, but everything on the desktop is a map. This answer field is a card. It's more obvious. It has this shape. Every organic result, every advertisement, every knowledge panel, every message is a card. This enables Google and enables them to mix and match and place as much information as it makes sense for a particular device in the future. So that could be quite a lot for the desktop. For cell phones, that's a vertical column. It could be less. But for a watch or a Google Glass or whatever comes after it, or a voice, you will likely only get one card.

But a great thing, from an SEO perspective, are these featured snippets, these questions and answers that fit on that big screen. We call it Result Number Zero on the desktop because you have that box and you have a lot of things under it. But this box is very prominent. On mobile devices, the same question and answer takes up much more screen space. So you're still a SERP, but that's very dominant, and then there are a couple of things below that. In terms of voice, you only get the same question-and-answer pairing, and we see that many of the answers on the voice, unless they are specialties like recipes or weather or something similar, have this question and answer format and these are also controlled by featured snippets.

The good news I think, and which hopefully will continue to be good news in the future, is that Google also wants all of these devices to run on the same core engine. This goes for desktop users too – I'll help you rank on the phone. They will help you rank on the voice and they will help you rank on all of these devices. I want you to be aware of this. I want you to try not to break this chain. But I think the things we are already good at will actually help us in the future, and I strongly encourage you to experiment with featured snippets to see how questions and answers appear on mobile and how they appear on Google appears to be at home and knowing that there will be a development where all of these devices will benefit somewhat from the optimization techniques that we hope we are already good at.

Encourage the travel chain

Hence, I would also like to say that when optimizing the answers, the best answers make the searcher ask for more. So what you want to do is encourage this chain, encourage people to do more research, give them rich content, give them the kind of things that pull them back to your website, that build credibility because this chain is actually good news for us in some ways. This can help us with the purchase. If we are credible on these devices, if we have a decent mobile experience when we get down to talking, that will help us really build our brand and be a positive thing for us as we work on it.

I want you to tell me what are your fears right now? I think we're a bit scared of the mobile index. What do you worry about with the voice? What do you worry about with IoT? Do you fear that we will have to shunt our refrigerators and what does that mean? So it enters the realm of science fiction, but I'd love to talk more about it. See you in the comments section.

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