Exploring key mobile traffic trends for 2022: Is the pandemic still defining the state of mobile search?


The share of mobile traffic was expected to continue to grow since Google began speaking mobile indexing.

Nevertheless, the pandemic has halted this trend and we have continued to link the decline in mobile phones to measures taken by COVID. This means that once the measures are lifted, we will see a complete return of mobile devices.

But the new normality doesn’t just mean tighter air travel and more people working from home. For now, mobile traffic doesn’t seem like it’s on its way to a full return – so the question remains: are desktops really coming back? Or will mobile traffic return over time?

These issues are at the heart of our latest Mobile Phone Status Report. We looked at the mobile web and application landscape to analyze the annual trends of mobile device penetration and identify some turning points that will shape the mobile landscape in the coming years.

About the mobile phone status report

Using their own Semrush .Trends in Open .Trends intel, we were able to analyze the entire surface of the mobile web:

  • Global patterns of mobile traffic over the years
  • Key channels that bring mobile traffic in different industries
  • Detailed analysis of various industries – from key traffic generation strategies to in-depth research of their advertising tactics.

For the advertising part, we used the data coming from AdClarity– the application you can find in our Semrush App Center.

We also used another App Center tool called Insights into mobile applications explore the landscape of mobile apps and assess some of the key download trends over the last few years.

Together, these insights helped us understand the dynamics of growth across the mobile web and applications to predict whether mobile devices will return or should stop using the “pandemic excuse” to predict future mobile device patterns.

Mobile Status Report: Highlights

Below we will reveal the key findings from our report to give you a brief overview of the current state of mobile devices.

1. The mobile web is still losing its share

The second half of 2021 was marked by lowering COVID limits – people were gradually returning to offices, air traffic saw some signs of recovery, and so on.

But this had little or no impact on mobile traffic.

In March 2022 we see 30% fewer mobile surfers than in May 2021– and the difference between strict measures is drastic between the two dates.

2. Strict COVID measures are not closely linked to mobile traffic

The above data suggest that there is no direct link between the extent of mobile penetration and the growth of desktop computers compared to the constraints associated with the pandemic.

However, we found more evidence.

When we compared the shares of mobile and desktop traffic, we did not notice a link between mobile traffic and, say, strict prisons.


As you can see, in Australia and Canada, the countries with the longest COVID measures, the share of mobile traffic is much higher than in the US, where we have seen softer prison acceptance.

This means that our previously self-evident notion that “people turned to the desktop because they were forced to stay at home” does not sound entirely correct. And our findings only proved that.

3. The decline of mobile devices has obviously affected the landscape of applications as well

No report assessing the state of a cell phone would be complete without researching how things are going on the Apple Store and Google Play pages.


As you can see, the data on three-year downloads reflects the declining trend in iOS. Some of the most popular app categories – Games and Shopping – recorded 20% fewer downloads in April 2021 – March 2022 compared to April 2020 – March 2021.


On the Android side, things look more promising, as almost every category of apps, but Games has witnessed an increase in the number of installs per year.

4. Directly continues to play an important role in generating mobile traffic

Regardless of the industry or year, direct traffic was the main source of traffic when it came to generating mobile traffic.


This means that brand awareness campaigns, as well as smart loyalty and customer satisfaction programs, can be very important if you want to increase your share of mobile traffic.

However, in some cases – just look at the healthcare or food and beverage sectors – search has played a comparable role in their traffic generation strategies, so you can’t ignore SEO.

5. Pay attention to video advertising strategies in the financial industry

When we thoroughly examined advertising strategies by industry, one sector stood out in terms of performance trend.

If we typically see a close link between ad budgets and performance, the financial sector has seemingly found a secret sauce for its video ad strategy.

Finance was the only market segment that managed to reduce the number of ad dollars while increasing the number of impressions. So it’s worth taking a closer look at what they’ve done to break the usual budget-performance relationship.

6. Despite the big hit, the mobile phone still dominates the digital sphere

If in the pre-pandemic period there were mobile-focused approaches and expectations regarding the decline of desktops, we now see a different trend.

However, this does not mean that the “mobile device is dead” – we still see that mobile traffic is prevalent in all areas.

What does this mean for those who want to win the digital game? Omni-channel is the answer. This means you need to offer a seamless user experience for any device used by your audience.

Explore the full Mobile Status Report and open your digital strategy to the future

These highlights are just some of all the insights we have been able to uncover throughout the report.

To see a closer look at each industry, their mobile advertising strategies, and even Apple Search Ads patterns, explore the full report.

What else is in there?

  • You will find out the biggest advertisers and publishers that attract the highest mobile traffic shares for each industry analyzed
  • You will discover the most popular apps of the year
  • You will discover the average cost per installation by application category and reveal the download trend from Apple Search Ads


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