Why Mobile and Desktop Rankings are Different
Today, people have the advantage of the internet – which takes them to any site of their choice, regardless of their location. This is when Google started working on improving its algorithm, specifically focusing people who use devices, such as smartphones for search purposes.
A smoother experience requires some of the best SEO practices to be implemented. According to sources, over 60% of all the internet time is spent on mobile. This stat alone implies the impact that mobile devices have on search engines.
The increasing importance of mobile led Google to strategize mobile-first indexing as a priority to rank at the top of SERPs. First, it is important to understand how mobile rankings differ from desktop rankings.
Understanding what desktop and mobile search rankings are, and how they are different
Let us start by understanding the reason why a site performs better in mobile search but fails in desktop search.
We will dive into an interview excerpt, where Google’s John Mueller answered questions relating to mobile and desktop rankings.
When asked how desktop and mobile ranking are different – despite switching to mobile-first indexing, John Mueller emphasized that indexing is not the same as ranking. It is important to understand that a mobile-first indexing environment doesn’t really mean that the mobile and desktop versions will be ranked equally though they were indexed as mobile.
Mueller continued, “So, mobile first indexing is specifically about the technical aspect of indexing the content.” A mobile Googlebot is implemented to index the content. Once a content gets indexed, the ranking side isn’t impacted. The ranking side still needs work.
According to Mueller, “Mobile and desktop rankings are contextually personalized."
This indicates that in some or most scenarios, the device and the context of the searcher are found to impact rankings. In some searches, users’ requirements vary based on the device that they are using, which impact rankings.
Mueller says that it is high time we perceived desktop rankings as different from mobile rankings.
Mueller adds, “a lot of factors influence these rankings, including speed. Otherwise, it could be factors like mobile-friendliness or any other element that might be displayed on the SERPs. To support this, he cites the example of searches made on mobile phone, which might indicate that the user is looking for local information. If the searches are made on a desktop, it could indicate that the user is looking for more images or more videos in the search results. This is why, Mueller explains, Google shows a range of different search results types.
Now, all these factors emphasize how the ranking or visibility of individual pages varies based on devices: mobile or desktop. This is how Google makes ranking decisions. This is how Mueller explains that ranking is never tied to the technical aspect of indexing the content.
When asked if lower mobile rankings indicate that mobile page speed factors are the cause, Mueller agrees that mobile-friendliness is definitely a factor. A number of factors, with regard to mobile and desktop, need to be considered when deciding the ranking.
Based on the device or the internet connection being used to access a site, different settings apply to personalization. And this personalization causes differences in rankings.
According to John Mueller, mobile indexing can be perceived as just indexing and as different from the algorithm’s ranking part. He adds that personalization has a vital role to play in the occasional differences in search rankings when it comes to mobile and desktop searches.
John Mueller explains that this could be mainly because the needs of someone on a mobile device vary from someone using a desktop device. The best way to look at these differences that appear between devices would be to see why the top-ranked sites’ mobile versions are preferrable in comparison with the lower ranked pages, with regard to a mobile device and personalization.
Why does the CTR take a dip when it comes to mobile devices?
Some of the experts connect this to the individualized cards for each listing. Each listing has been clearly sectioned off, which makes it further easier to review each listing.
If images are included in listings, it could help to understand why the dip is less substantial. Mobile users tend to click on other listings when they come across interesting images or thumbnail of a video.
What influences desktop rankings?
Desktop offers a wider, landscape-oriented screen – which offers search results a wider space for displaying. Multiple results can be displayed simultaneously along with multiple sponsored ads and search features, appearing at the side of results.
Search layout: Both mobile and desktop have varying search layouts, which impact the screen spaces for these devices, influencing how people view your website.
Factors influencing mobile rankings
Unlike desktops, the screens of mobile devices are vertical – and are smaller when compared with desktop screens – implying that search results own just a fraction of the search space as that of desktops.
Mobile devices are eligible for displaying lesser results as the search engines layout search results in a different way when compared with desktops. Also, there are differences in the features that are displayed for both devices, which makes it essential to differentiate between the features that impact mobile and desktop devices.
Too many features in results can be displayed using a mobile when compared with desktops. Also, the features that are displayed for both devices look entirely different.
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