Did you know that in 2021 mobile users captured a staggering 71% of online traffic and 56% of all online transactions, beating desktops to the punch in both categories?
You know what that means, right?
It’s time to go mobile! And with that, give mobile SEO as much attention as your conventional SEO strategies. There’s no argument that the impact of mobile in our lives is significant. Your next prospect is scrolling through their feed right now, looking for a trustworthy home service contractor.
So if you haven’t shifted already but you yearn for a boost in your Google ranking, then it’s time for device configuration. Here I’ll delineate mobile SEO vs desktop SEO for you, so you can make the switch!
The Rise of Mobile-First Web Design
It wasn’t long ago when Google solely focused its webpage indexing on desktops. Back in 2014, even if you were on a smartphone, the results you would see are based on Google’s desktop index. That meant having to zoom in to read content as there were no mobile-friendly websites yet.
But things have evolved greatly since then. Today, Google prioritizes mobile-friendliness in crawling and indexing new webpages. When you’re using a smartphone for Google searches, SERPs will reveal results based on Google’s mobile-indexed webpages. Ergo, doubling down on mobile SEO is more relevant today than ever!
Let’s see how we’ve progressed:
Rollout date: April 21, 2015
The popularity of mobile devices gave Google the nudge to roll out this mobile-friendly update. So this drastic announcement earned it the monikers: mopocalypse, mobilepocalyse, mobocalypse, etc.
But Google’s optimization for mobile search was more than an update, many call it a revolutionary shift. Google always prided itself on optimizing everyone’s user experience, so they aimed to cater to mobile users with the mobilegeddon update.
From that day forth, your webpage was either one of two things: mobile-friendly or not. And if you, unfortunately, belong to the latter, you drop to the bottom of the barrel — non-mobile optimized pages dropped significantly in SERP ranking.
Start date: November 4, 2016
First off, anyone who published their website after July 1, 2019, escaped the ravaging, purifying flames of Google’s mobile-first indexing movement. If that’s you, give yourself a pat on the back.
Google has always prioritized desktop content for crawling and indexing webpages. But this announcement set the bar for mobile experience as the indexing standard.
Though one might say, isn’t mobile-first indexing an inevitable outcome post-mobilegeddon? Well, yes and no.
Yes, because anyone sensible enough at the time has already optimized their webpages for mobile browsing. But no, because Google assured people that mobile-friendliness and mobile usability are not necessary requirements for mobile-first indexing.
The target of mobile-first indexing was to create an intuitive EXPERIENCE between mobile and desktop. Basically, if you purposively cut out content on mobile versus desktop view, Google will punish you by non-prioritizing your page for indexing.
Rollout date: March 26, 2018
This was the implementation of their initial announcement from a year and a half prior. Google finally made webpages’ mobile experience the golden standard for crawling and indexing.
But they assured that webmasters who only operate desktop views will remain represented. And mobile-first indexing had nothing to do with ranking or mobile SEO.
Well, at least not yet *winky face*
So if you’re looking to corner the market in mobile SERPs, it’s high time to optimize your mobile experience and Wizard of Ads™ can help you with that! Book a call now to learn more.
Mobile SEO vs Desktop SEO: Which Score is Higher?
The point of this article is not to discourage you. Desktop SEO matters just as much as mobile SEO so you shouldn’t focus on one over the other. Optimizing both is key.
If you’re already set up on a desktop SEO campaign, don’t roll it back and start again at the drawing board. Mobile SEO resembles desktop SEO in many respects, and we’ll discuss that below:
Similarities Between the Mobile SEO and Desktop SEO
1. Content remains king for both
In both realms, you cannot rank on a target keyword without relevant, information-dense, and useful content wrapped around it. Whether a user cares for SEO or not, one thing stands true: they’re looking for content that answers their queries and this is where desktop and mobile SEO agree.
Here are 5 aspects of content you may want to prioritize:
- Supporting media
Additionally, Google’s mobile-first indexing announcement emphasized uniformity in experience, content, resources, and assets between desktop and mobile browsing.
2. User experience matters equally
Users must be able to navigate intuitively when mobile browsing or desktop scrolling through your webpage. The goal of user experience is your market’s utmost convenience, so revamping both worlds of your home service business will ensure that you rank positively on desktop and mobile.
On top of making sure resources and assets are uniform across all platforms, here are other aspects to ensure an impeccable user experience:
- SSL certification for security
- Blazing fast site performance
- Structured data markup (valuable for home service businesses)
With all the above similarities, however, mobile searches are a tad bit more variable than desktop searches because they’re influenced by additional factors. And below we’ll delve into their points of divergence.
Differences Between the Mobile SEO and Desktop SEO
1. Search results layout
Since mobile devices have less screen real estate than desktops, the SERPs layout is one principal difference between the two. This means anything normally found on the right side of your desktop search interface will stack above or below mobile organic SERPs. These attractive and interactive sections push search result content further down the SERPs.
Some elements that will transition include:
- Knowledge Panel
These information boxes are meant to help users quickly understand a topic through a presentation of key facts. The knowledge panel will occupy the top spot of mobile search results.
What this means for SEO is that the block of content contains concise information so users won’t need to click on other links — potentially lowering the value of first-page SERPs.
- Interesting finds
Mobile SERPs also contains exclusive features not found in desktop results like the Interesting Finds section. This section uses Google’s algorithm to display “relevant webpages” that Google assumes users will find interesting.
For mobile SEO, the Interesting Finds section is a dynamic feature that can drive valuable traffic to sites that don’t even rank on the first page of SERPs.
2. Texts and font size
Mobile SERPs are generally presented with larger, more legible fonts as opposed to small texts in desktop search results. Additionally, listings on mobile are presented as stacked cards with embedded images and videos within each block. This means mobile results take up more space than normal.
As such, for mobile SEO, users are more likely to choose from the first few results in SERPs than continue scrolling down.
Mobile smartphones have built-in GPS (global positioning systems), providing Google with accurate location data from users which influences search results. This is one reason why mobile search and mobile SEO are particularly valuable.
What this means for SEO is that your Google search results in Colorado will be different if you Google the same query in Kentucky. So, a client is more likely to obtain a map result or directory when searching for a “Plumber near me” on mobile than on desktop.
Moreover, Google’s ad platform allows businesses to geo-target advertisements based on ZIP codes.
It falls on you to strengthen your local SEO that leverages your business’s visibility in Google’s local search results.
4. Influence of phone operating system
On top of Google’s dynamic and exclusive features on mobiles, mobile SERPs are also affected by the operating systems used by phones. There are instances when a user’s search intent is tagged as app-oriented, leading mobile SERPs to feature an array of mobile applications relevant to the query.
Common keywords that rank applications include: “mobile games,” “running tracker,” and “image editor.” This list of app results stays on top of the search results, followed by the “people also ask” section and then the knowledge panel.
For mobile SEO, this means more query-related content is pushed down further the screen’s real estate. Even if you rank a solid 7 or 8 in desktop search results, the likelihood of being clicked on mobile will be lower.
5. Click-through rate (CTR)
The main focus of mobile SEO is to ensure a positive ranking in mobile SERPs. But how does mobile vs desktop fare in the CTR department?
Currently available data on SERPs suggest that 2021 CTR in desktop SERPs for position 1 remains higher than mobile at 8.17% vs 6.74%. However, the drop in CTR from position 1 to position 2 is significantly lower for mobile vs desktop. One reason for this may possibly be because having dedicated and information-dense listings for mobile allows users to skim through content more effectively.
Although the convenience of Google’s continuous scrolling feature merits mobile SEO over desktop SEO because the click-through rate (CTR) for mobile is tinge higher for positions 3-10 than desktop.
For SEO, this means ranking #1 for desktop is twice more valuable than if you rank #2. However, for mobile, ranking for #1 is only 1.5 times more valuable than #2 so you can expect more traffic even if you missed the top SERP spot.
95% of the Mobile Search Market is Dominated by Google
With all that’s said and done, there’s no question that mobile SEO should have as much focus as desktop SEO because the majority of traffic share is attributed to mobile and it shares a little more than half of all transactions.
Even if the CTR on mobile is lower than desktop’s, the amount of exclusive mobile snippets occupying SERPs can significantly reduce your overall traffic (and conversions) if you don’t optimize better and rank #1 or #2 in mobile SERPs.
Ranking in mobile SERPs matters just as much as desktop SEO. And if you need a hand optimizing your mobile experience to rank better in SERPs, book a call now with Wizard of Ads™ and take that number one spot!