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Mobile devices are now the main source of Google search traffic

Hilton detail view mobile (1)GoogleGoogle mobile search results.

Google now gets more search queries in the U.S. from people using mobile devices such as smartphones than it does from people browsing the Web on PCs.

The company announced the change at a digital advertising conference on Tuesday, according to media reports. Google executive Jerry Dischler said that the shift to majority mobile searches has occurred in 10 key markets, including the U.S. and Japan.

He wouldn’t identify the other countries and did not say when the shift occurred, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The shift to mobile searches marks an important milestone for Google and could prove critical to the Internet giant’s future business.

The ads that Google displays alongside its search results are considered some of the most effective and lucrative types of ads in the online marketing world. But Google’s average ad prices have been in decline for several years.

Many analysts have attributed Google’s ad price decline to the fact that consumers increasingly access its service from mobile phones, and that mobile ads simply don’t command the same rates as the traditional search ads that Google serves on PCs.

Google disputed that notion during its first-quarter earnings call last month.

Finance Chief Patrick Pichette said that Google is experiencing strength in mobile search and that the “price per click” in its core search business continues to grow year over year. The reason for the overall decline in ad rates is due to Google’s YouTube ads, he said.

Even so, Google is taking steps to improve its mobile ads. During the ad conference on Tuesday, the company showed off new types of smartphone-friendly ads that make more use of images and respond to gestures such as finger swipes.

While Google is adapting its ads to the surge in mobile search traffic, it’s worth noting that the way consumers search from mobile devices is in flux too.

Many consumers skip search engines altogether and search for items directly within mobile apps. Someone searching for a restaurant, for instance, might go directly to the OpenTable app rather than visit the Google web site.

Google is also heavily reliant on a deal with Apple for a good portion of its mobile search traffic. The deal, which is expected to expire soon, makes Google the default search engine on the Safari Web browser on iPhones.

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