Who said this, you ask? None other than a young duo at Stanford named Larry Page and Sergey Brin, back in the late 1990s!
A look at the current manifestation of Google mobile search results suggests that Larry and Sergey have had a change of heart. In doing commercial-intent searches on both Android and Apple devices, I found that 100% of the above-the-fold real estate was taken by advertisements. Actually, in most searches, it was more like 120% — the ads kept going even after I began to scroll. Paid ads on desktop are typically in the 70% of coverage range, so this is quite a shift.
Despite what young Larry and Sergey thought before they were billionaires, Google is now a huge business and cannot risk losing revenue on mobile searches. Given the choice between some academic ideal of search purity and meeting quarterly numbers, Google will clearly take the latter path.
The loser in this battle is mobile SEO. If you run the SEO department for an ecommerce, travel, or B2B site, expect your mobile search traffic to start plummeting.
But don’t worry, all is not lost! While mobile SEO is in decline, mobile content marketing is doing splendidly. Great content may not be easily found by consumers through mobile search, but there is plenty of sharing taking place on social networks. A well-written piece of content can go viral and drive millions of views with nary a first-page rank on mobile search results.
And then there’s the science of “app store optimization,” known of course by a three-letter-acronym (TLA): ASO. Proper structuring of your app store description can drive better search results inside the app stores.
Given that many companies pay $10 or more per new install, effective ASO can drive thousands of dollars of app installs for free to your business.
Of course, content marketing and ASO are not immune to advertising pressure. Native advertising — which is essentially paid content advertising — is gradually taking over more and more real estate on desktop and mobile, which of course means that there is less real estate for organic content. And the app stores will no doubt eventually be crowded with paid ads. It’s hard to imagine Apple and Google not monetizing this channel to the max in the coming years.
Like all aspects of online marketing, the landscape changes very quickly. SEO declines and content marketing rises. Eventually content marketing will morph into something else. Those who can keep up with change will reap the rewards. Larry and Sergey are certainly proof of that!