What percentage of searches are performed on mobile devices?

By Jonathan Griffin. Editor, SEO Consultant, & Developer.

· 5 min read

According to a report from Hitwise, nearly 60 percent of all Online Searches are now carried out on a mobile device, with some sectors (Food and Beverage) reaching 72 percent.

Hitwise analyzed hundreds of millions of online search queries across multiple devices, including 3.5 million smartphones and tablets between April 10 and May 7, 2016, and included searches across all search engines.

Hitwise found that 72 percent of all searches to a food and beverage website was carried out using a mobile device, while just 39 percent of banking searches came from a mobile device.

Here are the full results:

IndustryShare of Mobile Searches
Food and Beverage72 percent
Health68 percent
Sports68 percent
News and Media64 percent
Lifestyle62 percent
Automotive62 percent
Retail56 percent
Travel (non-maps)52 percent
Real estate / Property48 percent
Entertainment42 percent
Banking39 percent

According to the findings, mobile searches tend to serve a more significant role in answering consumers’ questions earlier on the purchase journey, with navigational or brand-specific searches still more likely to be conducted from a desktop.

On the other hand, location-based searches (i.e., “near me”) are almost exclusively carried out on mobile.

Other takeaways from the report include:

  • Mobile searches are more likely to be structured in the form of a question and include words such as “how”, “are”, “where”, and “is”.
  • Breaking news, medical symptoms, and product recalls are heavily tilted toward mobile users.
  • While large purchases may start with mobile searches, there is a clear transition to desktop searches as users carry out more intense research or conduct the actual transaction.
  • In what seems to fly in the face of logic, mobile searches tend to be slightly longer (character length) than desktop. For example, the average desktop search that resulted in a visit to a Food & Beverage website is 2.2 words or 13.8 characters in length, whereas a mobile search was 2.5 words or 15.5 characters in length.

You should note that this data is from 2016 when the mobile market share was just 45.9%. The mobile market share in 2022 is now 59.47%. As such, I wouldn’t be surprised if the percentage of searches performed on mobile devices is not significantly greater than 60%.

The report further breaks down some of the main industries, and I have highlighted the key takeaways below:

Retail Search Statistics

Percentage of searches initiated on mobile with the following retail search themes:

Research ThemePercentageTakeaway
24 hours82 percentMobile shoppers want to find out which shops are open.
Engagement Rings82 percentTop secret purchases, such as engagement rings, are more likely to be carried out on a mobile.
Reviews82 percentShoppers are seeking information such as reviews in-store.
Layaway89 percentPoor consumers may only have a mobile device to connect to the internet.
Return Policy77 percentCounteract buyer’s remorse by making information easy to find.
Coupon77 percentConsumers can be persuaded even after entering the store.

Banking and Finance Search Statistics

Percentage of searches initiated on mobile with the following retail search themes:

Research ThemePercentageTakeaway
ATM84 percentConsumers that require cash will search on their phone.
30-year mortgage73 percentHomebuyers will search on their phone for information
Payday Loan70 percentLow-income consumers frequently use mobile devices.
Interest Rate65 percentWhen shopping for the best interest rates or loans, mobile is commonly used.
Car Loan58 percentLess common on mobile than mortgage searches, but still dominant.
Credit Report38 percentThe later stages of big purchases are not so common on mobile devices.

Travel Search Statistics

Percentage of searches initiated on mobile with the following retail search themes:

Research ThemePercentageTakeaway
Wait time93 percentTravelers turn to mobile to find estimated wait times of security queues, etc.
Places to eat88 percentTourists tend only to have mobile devices available to do searches.
Flights from66 percentTravellers looking for a destination prefer to browse on mobile.
Flights to53 percentOnce a destination has been chosen, users tend to move to the desktop.
Best time to visit79 percentEarly-stage travel planning is common on mobile devices.
Exchange rate34 percentFinancial topics tend to be researched more on desktops.

Food and Beverage Search Statistics

Percentage of searches initiated on mobile with the following retail search themes:

Research ThemePercentageTakeaway
Shots95 percentThe Bartender’s bible.
Is/Are…?88 percentIs soy sauce vegan? Quick searches for answers are predominantly mobile.
How to…82 percentCooks looking for tips.
Ideas80 percentMeal inspiration while shopping for food.
Recall80 percentFood safety concerns can strike at any time.
Calories79 percentChecking calories before eating.

Other Mobile Search Statistics

In 2019, Google published a review of insights they discovered throughout 2019, based on data over the previous two years.

Here are the takeaways:

  • Mobile image search - Mobile searches for “image search” has grown by over 60% as people increasingly turn to image search for ideas and inspiration. 50% of shoppers say images helped them decide what to buy, and 53% of online shoppers say that images inspired them to make a purchase.
  • Mobile voice search - 27% of the global online population uses voice search on mobile.
  • Mobile Podcast search - Mobile searches for podcasts has increased by over 80%.
  • Mobile searchers require immediacy - “Best” + “right now” mobile queries have grown by over 125%. For example, “best online sales right now”, “best stocks to invest in right now”. Satisfying the searchers’ immediate needs is becoming more critical.
  • Mobile geographical searches - Mobile searches for “store open near me” have grown by over 250%. For example, “grocery store open near me”.
  • Traditional industries are catering to mobile users - Mobile searches for “grocery app” have grown by over 900%.
  • Mobile automotive searches - Mobile searches for “best” + “car(s) / truck(s) / suv(s) have grown over 55%.
  • Financial planning searches - Mobile searches related to financial planning have grown by 70%. Mobile searches for “high yield” have more than doubled, while searches for “best credit cards” have grown by over 70%.