Differences Between Desktop and Mobile SEO


Differences Between Desktop and Mobile SEO

By now, hopefully everyone reading this already understands the importance of SEO in today’s internet marketing field. But, while traditional — or desktop — SEO is extremely vital, today you also need to be optimizing for mobile SEO. There are over 1.2 billion people that use their mobile devices to connect to the web, which also means that more and more people are using their phones to search for information. Since so much traffic is occurring on mobile devices, it makes sense that you should be using this to your advantage.

But not so fast. You might think that all those techniques you use for traditional or desktop SEO will work for mobile SEO, but that is not the case. These are two different and separate entities, and they must be treated as such. Yes, mobile SEO is still SEO, but it is very specialized. Think about doctors — you can go see a gastroenterologist or a pediatrician, who are both doctors, but they are specialized in different areas. They have different practices and techniques that help them treat their patients better than a regular doctor would.

Same thing here — they are different standards and practices that are needed to get results in mobile SEO. So, what makes it so different? Here are three ways that mobile SEO differs from traditional SEO and how you can optimize for mobile searches.



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Search Behavior

Think about when you are using your desktop computer for searches compared to when you are using your mobile device for a search. They are different, right? Yes, your search behavior is different. Mobile searchers are utilizing their mobile devices to search at different times than those on a desktop, and generally have different contexts for their search. Mobile search is for those on the go. They don’t go to their home screen and type in their search, anymore. This completely changes their search intent and context.

In mobile SEO, context is king. While they might be using the same or similar keywords in their searchers, they have a different meaning. You have to understand that, and figure out what they are searching for. Make sure you include mobile keyword research in your general keyword research to double check that you are including all keywords that are relevant.

Engagement

Engagement makes a huge difference between a mobile user and a desktop user. While a mobile searcher is going to be highly engaged, they are not interested in scrolling down the search results. They are on the go — they need their information fast. They are not going to dig through pages of results to find an answer. Therefore, being in the top spot is even more desirable in mobile SEO than it is in desktop SEO.

And, think about this — they are searching on a smaller screen, so they can’t see the fourth or fifth results, like they would be able to on a desktop. It’s reported that going from the top position to the fourth in mobile SEO can drop your CTR by 90 percent. 

Ranking Algorithm

Here might be the largest difference between desktop and mobile SEO — they have different ranking algorithms altogether. But why? Why does Google find the need to have completely separate algorithms? The answer: So that they have provided an even better mobile user experience.

Google has stated that they are determined to provide mobile users the same, if not better, experience that they provide to their desktop searchers. In reality, how could they do that without major changes to their algorithm? One of the biggest factors that was changed for mobile was the location.

Mobile SEO Tips

Mobile Responsive

If your website is not mobile responsive by now, you are already extremely behind. This needs to be your top priority, because Google will penalize you if your site is not responsive. Google is all about websites being mobile responsive — they have embraced their mobile users and want their searches to be as seamless as possible. Google recommends that your website be responsive to all the various devices that are used in mobile, but it’s not just Google.

Your customers want your website to be mobile responsive, too. If customers have trouble with your site and can’t get it to function right on their mobile screen, then they are going to leave your site and find one that can accommodate them. Like we said earlier, they are on the go — they don’t have time to get your site to work right. Google has a mobile friendly test that will help determine what areas of your website need to improve. Also, in Google Search Console, there is a tool available to see if Google’s search recognizes your site as mobile friendly.

Improve Site Speed

Going back again to what we said earlier, if customers are getting frustrated with your website, then they aren’t going to stick around. And, do you want to know one of the most frustrating things on the web? A slow website. No one wants to sit around and wait for a website to load. Most research shows that customers will wait for about 2 seconds for a site to load, and then they will move on in their search.

That’s not a lot of time, so you need to make sure your website is at top speed. In addition, site speed is an important part of Google’s algorithm and having a fast site shows them that you are a quality website, which means higher rankings.

Make Your Keywords Mobile Friendly

When you are focusing on traditional, or desktop, SEO keywords, you tend to focus more on making sure your keywords help to communicate the page’s relevance to the various search engines. However, this is not as important in mobile SEO. You need to focus on short head keywords instead of long tailed keywords.

Mobile searchers aren’t going to sit there and type out a seven-word search query. Instead, it’s going to be short, sweet, and to the point so they can keep going with whatever else they are doing. Again, they are on the go, not in front of a computer. In fact, many mobile users are not even using keywords at all. When working on your mobile keywords make sure that you are being very specific, you take into consideration context, and you include a location. While location is not very critical in desktop SEO, it is huge in mobile SEO.

Be a Local

We’ve already said that location is huge for mobile SEO, but why? Well, mobile search results are different – more priority is given to local results. Google Places appear higher in the SERPs because mobile users are searching for businesses nearby that they can quickly access. So, you want to be as local as possible. This is especially important if you have a local business that you are trying to drive traffic to. You need to optimize your local and business listings. Again, use geo-modified keywords to help with mobile visibility.

Desktop/Mobile Photo via Shutterstock

6 Comments ▼

Ronald Dod


Ronald Dod Ronald Dod is the Founder and Owner of Visiture, an internet marketing agency that focuses on Search Engine Optimization and Pay Per Click management for eCommerce businesses. Ronald holds a Masters in the Science of Marketing from Florida State University and is certified in Google Adwords & Analytics.

6 Reactions

  1. Very nice article for Differences Between Desktop and Mobile SEO because today you have start seo so needed know this point what mobile and desktop seo….

  2. Aira Bongco

    I think the difference stems from how the content is viewed. It is viewed differently because it is in different platforms. But the behavior is somehow the same.

  3. I think there’s no difference between the two. You only have to make sure that your website is performing well in terms of speed on both desktop and mobile.

  4. User Experience is different between Desktop & Mobile.

    UX & speed are the most importants factors to optimize for mobile devices.

  5. There’s a new trend going now. Many people are implementing AMP or Accelerated Mobile Pages Project to make their website more mobile friendly. Even though Google said that “this is not a ranking change for sites”, we should make use of this because we all know that User Experience plays an important role in Google search engine algorithm.

  6. Good points. Though there’s not much difference between the two, you did a great job detailing their differences.

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