Mobile vs desktop SEO

For SEO, we’re going to take a page from the Google’s playbook and divide web content by users accessing their websites. This will give us a clear picture of the differences between desktop and mobile SEO.

In the United States (and almost most of the world), Google’s mobile-first index has been in place since 2016. It’s the reason why the SERPs for mobile pages have been much more important than desktop ones in terms of traffic. In fact, 53.5% of all Google traffic comes from mobile.

A great example of how this affects Google’s algorithms can be seen in the way how the mobile page of the “best” site in a particular search queries is shown up in the SERPs. If it’s a desktop site, then you can see that for this specific query:

But if it’s a mobile site, then the top results will be different and will look like this:

This difference in the results is an indication of how the search engines will treat the different pages.

Here are a few important points to remember:

  • If you’re a desktop site and you have a mobile version, then the pages that most users have access to are going to be the main ones. For desktop sites, the first results are the ones that you should focus on regardless of the search query.
  • Desktop sites that only have a mobile version are going to be left out of the rankings.
  • If you have a desktop site, but it’s only accessible via a mobile version, then the mobile version of the site is going to take priority over the desktop one.
  • If you have a desktop site and you have a desktop version for the mobile site, then the desktop version will take priority. In this case, the desktop site will not even show up in the search results.
  • Google will prioritize the mobile version of a website that has a higher bounce rate, a lower dwell time, or a higher time on site.
  • Google will prioritize the mobile version of a website that has a higher bounce rate, a lower dwell time, or a higher time on site, by weighting the results based on those parameters.

Mobile vs desktop SEO: What’s the difference?

In the diagram above, the first site in the search results is the desktop site, and the second site in the search results is the mobile site.

While that isn’t always what happens, it’s something that we’re all familiar with. A desktop site does everything well, and then a mobile site is born and everything changes.

When Google first launched mobile-first indexing, the desktop version was given priority over mobile versions. This was a good strategy, but it may be time for Google to change its guidelines and make the situation a little bit more equal.

Now, the search engine giant is showing a website based on its mobile version first in the SERPs. Here’s what this means:

  • If a mobile version of a website has a higher bounce rate, a lower dwell time, or a higher time on site, then Google will prioritize it over the desktop one.
  • If a desktop site has a lower bounce rate, a higher dwell time, or a lower time on site, the desktop version will be given priority over the mobile one.

Now it’s time for you to ask yourself: Do you want your website to be prioritized over a desktop site with a higher bounce rate, a lower dwell time, or a higher time on site?

If you’re still not sure, then you’re going to have to make some changes to your website to ensure that your users have a great experience.

But if you’re a webmaster, then you need to do it.

Why should you focus on mobile users?

Let’s start with the obvious one: Mobile devices represent a huge portion of the world’s population. According to Statista, the global mobile internet penetration rate is 89.4%.

So, how can we justify focusing on mobile users?

Well, it’s not always the best idea.

We live in a world where everything is on the move. We’re constantly interacting with mobile devices, and that includes reading our emails, making purchases, and more. We should be focusing on those users, not desktop users.

This is especially true for e-commerce sites, as a lot of them rely on mobile users.

The average number of daily active mobile phone users is said to be 4.9. That’s pretty high, and that means a lot of users are visiting your website on a daily basis.

The mobile version of a site can give you an advantage, but it’s not going to be overwhelming. You can still perform basic SEO tasks, but you need to do it with a mobile-first strategy in mind.

What are the benefits of mobile SEO?

Let’s take a look at the benefits of mobile SEO.

1. Google can find your website faster

The first benefit of mobile SEO is that it can help Google to find your website faster. This is because Google has a much better understanding of mobile SEO than desktop SEO.

If your mobile SEO is implemented correctly, you should see that your search rankings go up as soon as your mobile site is published.

Google’s mobile index should be updated as quickly as possible, and in the majority of cases, that’s exactly what it is.

If you want to learn more about Google’s mobile index, you should check out our article about it.

2. You can improve your user experience

The second benefit of mobile SEO is that it improves your user experience. It’s a well-known fact that mobile users are prone to abandoning your website if they don’t have a good user experience.

If they can’t see all the content, can’t do all the actions you want them to, or can’t go to the other sites on your website, then they’re going to leave.

So, the way to turn that around is to give them a good user experience.

In the majority of cases, those users are on mobile devices, and that means that you should do everything possible to make their browsing experience easier.

3. More time spent on your website

The third benefit of mobile SEO is that it can increase the amount of time that users spend on the website.

There are a lot of surveys and studies that have shown that users prefer mobile sites. They’re usually better on mobile, and that means that the time they spend on your site is going to increase.

But, don’t get the idea that the more time users spend on the mobile version of your site, the better your website is. That’s not the case.

The reason is that mobile websites can be very complex. You’re going to spend a lot of time on them, and that means you should make sure they’re not difficult for your users to navigate.

4. More traffic

The fourth benefit of mobile SEO is that it can help you to attract new visitors to your website.

This is because mobile devices are easier to use. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got a 4G or a 3G device, you can use your phone to navigate the internet and find what you’re looking for.

People don’t need to spend much time to get to your website, and they’ll spend more time if they find your mobile version of the site easier to use.

5. More leads

The fifth benefit of mobile SEO is that it can help you to increase the number of leads you get from your website.

In the majority of cases, those leads are from mobile devices, and the more time you spend on a device, the more leads you’ll get.

That’s because a lot of people are scrolling through their smartphones while they’re on the subway, waiting for the train, or whatever.

So, if you can make your site easier to use, then more people are going to choose to use your services instead of Google, Bing, or Facebook.

6. More conversions

The sixth benefit of mobile SEO is that it can help you to increase the number of conversions.

This is because a lot of people aren’t just on mobile to surf the web. They’re on mobile because they want to buy something.

So, if you can keep visitors on your website longer, then you can get more conversions from your website.

Last point

Don’t forget to use the structured data markup. It can help to improve your mobile optimization because it gives you a lot of benefits.

If you want to learn more about structured data, we have a great article about it.

Images by Freepik

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