Website traffic from mobile phones research in 2010 – 2011

The Real Rise of Mobile as a traffic driver

Everyone is talking about mobile and it’s rise as an Internet device, with people reaching for their phones and using them instead of laptops or PC’s when they look at a website.

With that in mind, Sitelynx, always focused on real data rather than opinions, have researched what’s really happening ‘out there’, and the impact mobile devices are having on today’s website traffic and likely to have in the future.

How we did it – Research from March 2010 to February 2011 

Google Analytics has the ability to report on traffic to a website from mobile device, showing what phones people are using to look at a website, whether they where on a mobile phone network or using a WiFi connection (more on that later) and then the normal user stats that Google Analytics provides.

Sitelynx has pulled out data from a variety of our client sites over the last year (March 2010 to Feb 2011) and categorised it in to the key types – consumer, business or charity. From there all data was anonymised to remove anything specific to any individual site. Then finally analysis was applied to see how people are really using their mobiles today.

Big data

  • 119.4 million visits were analysed
  • 3 million visits come from a mobile device (2.5% of all traffic)
  • 10 sectors we included including; B2C Retailers, Publishers (B2B & B2C), B2B business services and Charities.

Most often used mobile device

The outright winner here is the iPhone, being at the #1 position for all sites that were covered in our research. iPad comes in at #2, followed by Android using smartphones.

So, if you are planning a site redesign, ensure you test across these three for usability.

Smart phones feature all the way through the devices with Sony being the first actual handset being used for the web at all.

Top 10 mobile devices / OS


Top 10 Consumer Mobile device

When restricting the research to consumer websites you can see that they are using a wide range of mobile phones.

Top 10 mobile devices / OS for consumer based sites

Top 10 Business Mobile device

Business users have preference for Android and Blackberry (no surprise there) and iPod drops in use, but strangely there is a small sign of a Playstation Portable being used.

Top 10 mobile devices / OS for B2B sites


Most used connection: 3G VS WiFi

This data shows an interesting insight to “where” the people were when they where visiting websites. To explain “IP Pools” its a catch-all group, whenever someone is using their WiFi (wireless) connection on their phone rather than a specific mobile network.

If you then include all the ISP’s listed, you can see WiFi is the most popular method for surfing, potentially indicating that people have become used to connecting from home or when they at a station, rather than “on the go”.

Out of the mobile network providers who people use to connect through, O2 leads with nearly 20% of all the traffic, showing that their exclusive on iPhone has borne out with the majority of active mobile web users connecting through them.

Vodafone and Orange also show usage, but the majority “sofa surf” through WiFi.

3G vs WiFi table 

Search Traffic on Mobile

Down we get into the reality of Web Search on mobile. As you can see search on Mobile is a significant percentage of traffic with over 31% on average coming from it. That is 8% below the percentage of search from web traffic but interestingly a larger amount of paid search traffic compared to the web.

Search Traffic on mobiles & Organic Paid split


Navigation VS Discovery Traffic

This analysis tells us how much traffic is from people who know the website and just type the name in (navigation means search:”facebook” – click versus people who are looking for products, content or entertainment and have specified where to get it from. (discovery means search:”blue mens trainers”). This shows the same difference to the overall search traffic, that search is still growing on mobile but not far behind (7% less traffic on mobile is discovery).

Mobile visits only

Navigation vs Discover traffic on mobiles

Web visits only

Navigation vs Discover traffic on the web 

What types of sites sent mobile traffic to websites

Referral traffic data on mobiles 

Not surprisingly most of the traffic sources (making up around 35% of all traffic evaluated) stem from webmail.

This suggests that a lot of users haven’t linked up their mail accounts to their native mail application on their handset devices. Other than webmail the next biggest player would be Discounters (sites such as voucher sites and other related get X% OFF RRP sites) making up almost 15% of all evaluated traffic.

In position 3 we see Misc with about 14% which identifies random sites that couldn’t be grouped, this selection would of course make up quite a large chunk of the total traffic due to the variety of users using their handsets for browsing the web.

Social Networks such as Facebook & Twitter take up around 7% it turns out.

Search Engines interestingly enough only make up 4.8%. Even more interesting is the fact that the referral data out of Google Analytics in regards to search engines is contradictory with the data you get out when you directly check Search Engines.

Again, this is only the web traffic referral traffic from other sources like actual mail applications as well as any other applications on handsets which  cannot be measured in this way, this explains the discrepancy within the Search Engine data.

Mobile usage over months by website type

Consumer sites

Pureplay changes in mobile usage over 2010 into 2011
For the consumer sites, September is quite remarkable with a huge jump in visits. Not only did they receive a high uplift in traffic, but it also got the Mobile use started on a different scale.

As we can see going down the months, although no huge surge is appearing again, mobile use is a continuing trend within the e-commerce space. From March 2010 to February 2011 Mobile’s made up 6.65% of all traffic going to e-commerce sites.

Charity and Third sector sites

3rd Sector changes in mobile usage over 2010 into 2011

The third sector shows a surge in mobile usage in April, May, July and January. Nothing that can be compared to what happened in ecommerce, but still worth noting. From March 2010 to February 2011 Mobile’s made up 1.16% of all traffic going to 3rd Sector sites.

Business to Business

B2B changes in mobile usage over 2010 into 2011 

It’s still important to address that mobile usage, although not with the same big steps as in the other markets, is growing with the B2B sector as well.

From March 2010 to February 2011 Mobile’s made up 2.33% of all traffic going to B2B sites.


The mobile phone is now a real device used daily to access websites all across the UK, and should now be on every marketers plan, for how their site works on the big phones and as an actual promotional channel for 2011.


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