If you ever needed convincing about the impact of mobile then this statistic is surely it.

The BBC, one of the world’s largest and most powerful news and entertainment organisations, saw more traffic to its digital BBC News content through smartphones than desktop PCs at the end of July 2013.

That’s one of the world’s most popular websites being accessed at different stages via mobile, overtaking the desktop medium that everybody’s been used to using for decades.

And that figure is only set to grow.

The content context

That doesn’t mean for one second that desktop PCs are on the verge of dying out.

Are you set up to take advantage of masses of mobile traffic and how it searches for answers?Rather it’s an excellent case study of how the BBC recognised the changing landscape of how people were digesting content and acted accordingly.

The decision to relaunch its website at the start of 2012 with responsive design in mind was a masterstroke.

The advances in mobile technology and the release of Google Hummingbird continue to make the investment look impressive. The BBC’s foresight is paying huge dividends.

Mobile is no longer ‘the future’. Mobile is here and now – and has been for a long time.

The question is are you set up to take advantage of masses of mobile traffic and how it searches for answers?

Adjusting your outlook for mobile search

The thinking behind the Hummingbird update is that users’ habits have fully evolved from simple queries through word association to full questions in the hope that the right answer is instantly provided.

Mobile devices have had a huge hand in that thanks to voice-activated search peripherals and giving owners more natural ways of expressing a search query through apps and more.

Yelp for instance has said that 59 per cent of all its searches are on mobile devices – common sense if you consider people are using the site on-the-move looking for certain restaurants and other points of interest.

The Hummingbird reveal itself saw Google’s employees explicitly referencing phones, touch, clear mobile results, and more.

With Siri, Google Glass and other technologies becoming available voice search and semantic algorithms will play a key part in mobile SEO over the coming years.

Optimising your mobile presence for Hummingbird

Picture the scene: you’re a sports store based in Manchester’s bustling city centre. A teenager is out shopping and he says to his phone “Where can I buy a new pair of Nike football boots?”

Are you confident that your site and shop will be one of the first results that teenager sees?

Hummingbird has been designed around people’s natural language preferences, not somebody picking up their phone and saying “Manchester football boots cheap Nike.”


Make sure your site is responsive and easy to use on mobile devices.


Optimising around semantics and real-life conversational structures sounds incredibly tricky, but it’s actually not that difficult if you keep the right search philosophy in mind.

Make sure your site is responsive and easy to use on mobile devices. Invest in a creative, authoritative content campaign instead of a keyword strategy. Keep an active and healthy social profile. Put your customers first.

Don’t neglect your desktop users

A word of caution: neglecting your desktop site users and throwing all your weight behind mobile optimisation would be the worst thing you can do.

If there’s anything else that the Hummingbird release has underlined is don’t change statistics and do something for the sake of Google.

Your online brand is a representation of your business’s thoughts and ideals. Any strategy needs to complement that and a broad focus of other search engines – not optimisation for the benefit of Google.

Predicting what your users want

Semantic prediction will most likely be one of the more difficult tasks of your optimisation journey. But it can also be one of the more fun aspects of optimising for Hummingbird and putting a little creativity into your users’ search journey.

You’ll need to step into the shoes of the average shopper and fully dissect your brand. Be brutal and ask the questions that they may ask their tablet or smartphone.

But isn’t that better than robotically slotting keyword after keyword into a huge wall of text? If you can become the number one centre of knowledge in your field and the primary destination for certain customers then you stand a better chance of converting them into a loyal brand enthusiast.

So walk around the local area and take notes of questions from a shopper’s perspective. Ask who, what, when, where, why, and how. Pull out your smartphone and ask those questions. Visit your site.

Is your offering answering the questions that your competitors aren’t?

Mobile Hummingbird on a feasible scale

Mobile advertising accounts for 41 per cent of Facebook’s overall revenue streams, for instance, while mobile advertising accounts for a quarter of YouTube’s income.Of course the BBC is doing it right, you can point out. It’s an enormous corporation with a worldwide content creation and distribution service at its disposal.

But that would be missing the point entirely. The data, predictions and movements indicating the shift toward Hummingbird have always been there. The BBC was clever enough to act fast.

It’s also important to point out that, with Hummingbird, the search game essentially hasn’t been changed. It’s more a case of the goalposts being moved (and not for the first time).

And the majority of sites have already been using mobile marketing for a while. Mobile advertising accounts for 41 per cent of Facebook’s overall revenue streams, for instance, while mobile advertising accounts for a quarter of YouTube’s income.

Mobile usage is already high, so your site may already have been picking up streams of traffic from mobile sources.

The good news is that it’s highly unlikely you’ll ever have to rip up your site and go back to the drawing board. It’s not too late to change, update and adapt to a brand new Hummingbird search philosophy.

This is just the start for your brand becoming a help centre for online consumers, a producer of interesting, entertaining content, and a paragon of high-quality ethical search values.

To find out more about mobile optimisation and how it can galvanise your online presence contact Webpresence today!

(Infographic image courtesy of Unifiedsocial.com)