For the first time ever, worldwide mobile and tablet internet usage has overtaken desktop. According to independent web analytics company StatCounter, this landmark occurred in October when mobile and tablet devices accounted for 51.3 per cent of internet usage compared to 48.7 per cent by desktop.

In response, Aodhan Cullen, CEO of StatCounter, issued a warning to businesses that aren’t prioritising mobile to recognise this now dominant demographic.

“This should be a wake up call especially for small businesses, sole traders and professionals to make sure that their websites are mobile friendly,” said Cullen. “Many older websites are not.”

Cullen also believes that this increase in traffic from smartphones and tablets isn’t the only reason why businesses should give more attention to mobile users.

“Mobile compatibility is increasingly important not just because of growing traffic but because Google favours mobile friendly websites for its mobile search results,” noted Cullen.

Mature vs. emerging markets

Mobile traffic overtaking desktop isn’t exactly a new trend. Last year, it was revealed that more than half of Google searches come from mobile, which didn’t even include devices with screens that exceeded 6 inches in size, such as tablets.

“Search as we think about it is fundamentally how you will interact with computing,” said Amit Singhal, senior vice president of Google Search at the time. “Computing may live in a 4-to-6-inch device, it may live in a desktop, it may live on a 1-inch round device.”

Even so, users on desktop should not be neglected or forgotten about altogether. After all, StatCounter has found that desktop is still the primary mode of internet usage in mature markets such as the US and UK.

This could cause a conflict of interest among businesses looking beyond the EU in post-Brexit Britain, as emerging markets predominantly consist of mobile users.

“Post-Brexit, UK businesses should be aware, as they look to increase trade outside the EU, that India for example has over 75 per cent internet usage through mobile devices,” revealed Cullen.

Mobile-friendly websites

Even though precedence is now given to mobile friendly websites in mobile search results, there are plenty of resources available that business can call upon for help.

“If you need support with your mobile-friendly site, we recommend checking out the Mobile-Friendly Test and the Webmaster Mobile Guide, both of which provide guidance on how to improve your mobile site,” says Klemen Kloboves, software engineer at Google.

In addition to mobile-friendliness, Google’s handy and easy-to-use tool will also reveal information about mobile and desktop speed. You can find out what’s working, what’s not, and which fixes to consider.

“Your customers live online. When they need information or want to find a nearby store or product, they grab the nearest device,” says Yong Su Kim, VP of Google SMB Sales Americas. “On average, people check their phones more than 150 times a day, and more searches occur on mobile phones than computers. But if a potential customer is on a phone, and a site isn’t easy to use, they’re five times more likely to leave.”