Mobile Traffic Growth At Risk. What To Do About It?

Semrush, in its latest study, "The State of Mobile 2022", perceived the appearance of a post-pandemic phenomenon that seems to be putting mobile traffic growth at risk.

Updated: June 21, 2022
Mobile traffic growth at risk

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In the last decade, the smartphone has become one of the main gateways to information for millions of people around the world. 

Its adoption has been so great that projections since 2016 indicated that it could become the most important source of search by 2025.

But… It was only a matter of time before the projection fell apart. 

Neither Nostradamus nor The Simpsons managed to foresee the sharp drop in mobile traffic (nor a pandemic that made us all stay at home for several months), but that’s exactly what Semrush’s State of Mobile 2022 report has shown.

Is it possible that an apocalyptic future awaits us and that, as marketers, we must throw all our mobile efforts overboard?

Let’s take it easy.

In the last two years of the pandemic we have adapted to the “new normal”. That normal was nothing more than getting used to seeing the dynamics of consumption and communication changing more frequently

The predictions we had for mobile traffic corresponded to trends that did not contemplate how radical a pandemic like the one we are experiencing in 2020, 2021 and the years to come would be. 😬

At first, we didn’t want to accept or understand that the pandemic was going to last so long. Nor did it fit in our heads that when we finished it, our routines and vision of the world would change to the point of being impossible to return to the thinking that governed us in March 2020, when the pandemic was formally decreed.

At that time, mobile traffic occupied a large part of our strategic communication efforts, and I am sure that it continues to be a part of our analysis and investment routines. 

That being the case, why is there so much terror with the drop in mobile traffic? Next, I will tell you what Semrush found in its study and what it means for digital marketing.

What the Semrush 2022 study says about mobile traffic

The world was already talking about the importance of taking care of Mobile audiences. Since 2016, this has been the priority, thanks to studies indicating that smartphones would be the main source of information search and hence the high investment in their growth. 

However, the arrival of the pandemic left us with a certain behavioral disorder, which after two years still affects us.

What does the pandemic have to do with traffic? 2020 was the year we saw the first drop in mobile traffic. The restrictions on leaving the house, at first, seemed to be connected to the increase in the use of the computer for organic searches.

We have reached the middle of the year 2022 with more flexible traffic restrictions and with the hope that mobile traffic will resurface. However, it was not. Now in the middle of 2022, mobile traffic continues to decline, thus destroying the equation in which being at home was intimately associated with the use of the computer.

The Semrush study also showed that the mobile phenomenon was affected by budget cuts in companies, paid media and strict social media policies.

And let’s continue discovering what it is that happened to mobile traffic, according to the study.

Mobile traffic vs. pandemic

Something we must bear in mind is that the fall in mobile traffic is NOT synonymous with the fact that we have stopped using the smartphone.

Just think for a second: when was the last time you remember going to the bathroom without your cell phone? 

Yes, it is true that the pandemic led us to make frequent use of the computer. Honestly, working, studying or looking for information continues to be more comfortable on the computer. But this is not the main reason for the drop in mobile traffic.

Companies, faced with the new dynamics of consumption, began to invest in more technologies that would allow them to survive the uncertain economic future. Market research showed that users were not only using smartphones more but that we were generating even more attachment to the device.

Why, then, is mobile traffic in such decline?

The Federal Institute of Telecommunications (IFT) of Mexico demonstrated in a survey the increase in the use of mobile Internet for video calls, online purchases, bank transactions and more.

The need to manage life’s activities through smartphones increased by 200%, only for more specific use of applications.

Here is the crux of the matter. 

Before 2020, apps were going through a tough time; but, after the pandemic began, there was a considerable recovery in which app downloads increased by 27% and have remained so to this day. 

Mobile use has been divided: 49% of the time to using communication applications such as social networks, 36% for the consultation of email, the rest for the use of financial applications, health, education, news, food at home, games, streaming, among others.

What do I mean by these statistics? 

That the smartphone is being used more than ever. But the usage trend has moved away a little from organic mobile search, to make room for the app business where the strict policies of the algorithms encourage the creation of content and exclusive disclosure within the app. As is the case of social networks, with their strategies to prevent brands from driving users out of their platforms.

Mobile usage heads in another direction

Concern about mobile growth remains as strong as it has been since Google’s announcement in 2016. 

What the Semrush study indicates is that the usage experience is shifting to other alternatives, resulting in an invitation to Marketing teams to think about content and communication in a different way than was originally projected.

Similarly, Semrush shows us that the battle for mobile traffic is not lost. 

For most countries, organic search traffic ranks second or third in importance. Therefore, it is essential to continue investing in the strategy; At the same time we need to develop communications that strengthen other traffic acquisition channels such as Direct and Referral.

As an SEO specialist, these statistics are not the ones that make me the happiest, since my goals depend on this third organic channel. At the same time, the study helped me think about the difficulties we are experiencing in SEO, facing so many powerful new channels of traffic acquisition. 

This scenario ended up being the main motivator to continue studying in depth about algorithms, linguistic entities and the local behavior of people and the market.

With the Semrush graph, it is also clear to us the importance of working more on brand recognition (direct traffic) and on strategic alliances with targeted business proposals (referral traffic).

The invitation, therefore, is that as SEOs and marketers, we learn about how to take care of the other acquisition channels.

Information sources have diversified and the smartphone continues to be the pillar of these changes.

How we’re adapting at Rock Content

We’ve been experiencing a critical time for traffic in general. And not just us. Other companies too. 

For years, we at Rock Content have invested wisely in our organic traffic. So it is not for free that we have the ability to impact 7 million people every month, with our blogs in English (EN – USA), Portuguese (PT – Brazil) and Spanish (ES – Mexico).

But we can’t lie, we also got used to the unpredictable dynamics of 2020 where our traffic grew by 200%, after 8 years of blogging. Now, in 2022, we are suffering because the numbers are behaving more like 2019 instead of continuing the frenetic pace that the pandemic brought to traffic as a whole.

On the other hand, when looking at our traffic acquisition channels, we found that mobile engagement itself did not change as drastically as Semrush suggested in the study.



As we can see, we saw a lot of growth for our EN (US) blog traffic, but in terms of percentage share per media, mobile remained mostly untouched.

We noticed similar behavior on our PT and ES blogs.

So in reality, despite the study having identified a significant decrease in mobile traffic, in our scenario, the study served as a reason to continue working on the media proposals in which we were already investing efforts since 2021: our media plan and our intention to diversify traffic sources.

Of course we will continue working for our organic growth of 20% quarterly in the United States for our blog in English. But we are also creating strategies to strengthen direct searches for our brand, content and services.

Within the strategy, we created a very strong opinion content section with the main trends of Marketing, Business and Sales of the week—and that type of content, that is not made for SEO strategies, is growing by 100% in traffic for the United States, 188% in Brazil and 198% in Mexico and bringing more than 30k visits each month. And we won’t stop here.

We also created our fully interactive newsletter: The Beat; which is growing in registered users by 15% monthly. And in the number of accesses, there is a 50% growth for the United States and 164% in Brazil. Mexico, here we come! 😉 

And yes, the numbers still look low compared to the grand 7 million organic views, but these numbers are growing and connecting with people in the way that today’s information consumption is demanding. 

So congratulations to the content team at Rock Content! Surely we will not delay in continuing to explore ways to also participate in mobile trends.

What to do to comply with today’s mobile standards?

Being digital is a daily job and by this I mean that we need to be connected with the reality of our users to understand if the market predictions coincide with those of our specific niches. 

Listening to trends is very important to get ideas and stay connected with the world. But listening to your audience and accompanying their daily problems is what will lead us to make the right decisions so as not to have to run after traffic that is not necessarily impacting our results.

Semrush calls us to think about mobile dynamics. But how much of mobile is really impacting your digital strategy? 

It is true that mobile and general traffic took a beating, but it is still there representing a good percentage of visits to your website or blog. The behavior of users must stop being measured according to the pandemic, and yes to the needs and realities of the niche we are targeting. 

The changes we witnessed during 2020 and 2021 were the new normal for two years. Now, let’s wait carefully to see what’s next in the world of communications and digital consumption.

Having good data, closely following your competition and the good references in the sector, through benchmarks, will always bring us better perspectives of current results, more than just following trend waves for no reason. Even more so in a moment like the pandemic, which brought only strong questions that are making us rethink what we want from society.

Continue reading the contents of our newsletter section (if you’re not subscribed yet, I strongly recommend you to do it below), and train your reflection on various topics, based on the opinions of our team of Marketing professionals.


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