How Do Mobile Vs Desktop SEO Strategies Differ?

Set your website up for success by optimizing for both mobile & desktop

29May

In the past, you only had to worry about one set of results: desktop. Today, as an SEO, you must keep an eye on both desktop and mobile SEO if you are to maintain ranking success on both fronts. Why is this important? According to  BrightEdge, 79% of search listings have different rankings on desktop and mobile.

This means the top-ranked listing on desktop is unlikely to also be the top listing on mobile. This is mostly because Google has established two indices, one for mobile results and the other for desktop results. As such, your approach to SEO must also have a dual-pronged approach to be successful. To get this right, let us start with what this difference in SEO strategies looks like.

What is the difference?

When Google launched its push for mobile-first indexing, it did so based on search and general web consumption trends amongst web users. With so many web users accessing the internet via a smart device, mostly with smaller screens than desktop devices, the architecture of the web had to follow suit.

Websites had to be adapted to this new reality to cater to the unique needs of mobile users. As it also became apparent that users have different browsing behaviors when on desktop vs mobile, it also became important to adapt how search results appeared on both platforms. This is the reason why SEO must also be different across both platforms, as the underlying guidelines have become different.

What factors affect this difference?

With this new set of standards, a couple of factors have risen to affect how SEO works for mobile and for desktop. While desktop continues to remain as it was, mobile SEO requires a different approach occasioned by guidelines published by Google. Factors that influence the difference between mobile and desktop SEO include:

- Screen size: Different screen sizes mean users have different browsing habits.

- User intent: In general, users on desktop will tend to spend more time on search results digging for information. On mobile, users tend to focus on one task, like getting a phone number, or price.

Micro-moments: A term coined by Google, this refers to Google’s effort at identifying a web user’s most probable intent when searching on mobile/desktop.

How do you differentiate your approaches?

As these differences are largely driven by Google’s push to create a better experience for web users, it is important to toe the line and get your website compliant. To do so, here are some ways you can differentiate your SEO efforts for mobile and desktop:

- Create separate SEO strategies for desktop and mobile.

- Track each campaign separately and using different success factors.

- Integrate voice search for mobile-first searches.

- Track page speeds for both desktop and mobile. (HINT: Mobile loading must be faster so try and exclude some site elements from the mobile version of your site.)

Update your Google Analytics filters to track mobile visitors and try and understand their behavior on your site.

As mobile has become such a crucial factor in search rankings, setting up separate SEO strategies dedicated to mobile and desktop is a must. Understanding the difference will help you further differentiate your strategies to win equally on both fronts.

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