A study released by Searchmetrics reveals that over a third of mobile web search results vary from desktop results when comparing identical search queries across the two.
In fact, there is up to a 43% difference in results according to Searchmetrics US Google Ranking Factors 2014 Study. The data was compiled by comparing several thousand keyword searches on desktop and mobile.
Mobile users have grown accustomed to using search to navigate to a website rather than typing a complex URL on a small, on-screen keyboard. Google estimates that mobile queries grew five-fold in the last two years
The discrepancy in search results across mobile and desktop should come as an eye opener to businesses that rely on search discovery for new customers and sales. Optimizing for both mobile and desktop is becoming increasingly more important.
Marcus Tober, Searchmetrics’ founder and CTO, explains why the results vary so greatly:
“Google is increasingly focused on the intent and context of search queries… For mobile searches it has additional information about the searcher, such as their location, which also impacts the results it delivers. Our research demonstrates that marketers need to focus on different areas if they are to increase visibility on smartphones.”
Additional findings indicate that Google’s mobile search results tend to include pages with fewer backlinks from other sites than the results for the same searches on desktop and laptop. That could be explained by the fact that mobile content generates fewer adhoc links, as websites are much less likely to link to dedicated mobile pages. Tober offers some advice to business, saying there would be no differences in backlinks with responsive sites because it would always be the same URL being linked to.
Another reason for the difference in search results across mobile and desktop is due to the file size of the sites. Mobile results tend to display pages with a smaller file size than those delivered on desktop or laptop. The ability to render the page quicker could lead tocontent ranking differently on mobile compared to desktop.
As the amount of searches being performed on mobile devices increases at a rapid pace, it’s important for marketers and SEOs to be aware of how their pages rank in mobile results. “Understand the factors that correlate with higher positions ‒ as they are not necessarily the same as for desktop SEO,” concluded Tober.
The findings, based on an analysis of Google.com search results for ten thousand relevant informational and transactional keywords, are focused on the first 30 results. The report contains an extract from a larger, more comprehensive mobile study, which will be released in fall 2014.