People pass more and more time on their mobile devices, relating with the web in a selection of ways. But even when you use your phone or tablet as you would a desktop computer, there are many differences between the 2, plus the way that search engines work.

To influence people on all devices, you can optimize not only for search engines on desktops, but also for mobile. Not like desktop, mobile search engine optimization (SEO) is impacted by the position of the user, the size of their screen, the device’s operating system, and more. Thoughtful these differences make it possible to improve your rankings through devices and grow your business.

How Mobile SEO is Different

Optimizing for mobile devices needs many of the same best practices of desktop SEO But mobile search results are much more flexible than desktop searches, because they are partial by an additional set of factors.

Things like page organization, user location, operating system, screen size, and more effect what content accepts a top ranking. The interface of these variables means that search engine crawling, indexing, and ranking methods differ between devices. Mobile SEO provides a framework to succeed on any device. But first, it’s main to know what differs between desktop and mobile, and how those differences effect search results.

Here’s where they diverge:

Search engine results pages (SERPs)

What differs most between desktop and mobile SEO is the design of the Search Engine Results Pages (SERP). Because mobile phones are smaller than desktop screens, Google doesn’t have enough room for 2 columns. This means that anything on the right side of a desktop search result will stack above or below the organic search results, and rarer results will show on the first page—this is particularly true for paid listings (pay-per-click results). Also, the Knowledge Graph board is displayed at the top of mobile SERPs—this is the block of content that answers a web query with brief information so you don’t have to click on any links. Similarly, Landmarks, Things to Do, and Google My Business results seeming at the top of mobile SERPs. This attractive, highly shared content pushes search results further down on the page. However on desktop, it’s to the right of results.


Most modern mobile phones have a global positioning system (GPS), which offers search engines with more correct location data than stationary desktop computers. Even if a device doesn’t have a GPS, mobile phones have other ways of giving search engines location data, which effects search results. This is one of the main reasons that mobile search results are much more flexible than desktop search results—if you search something in Bangkok, the results will possible be very different than if you search while in New York City. However, desktop searches are also unfair by the physical location of your mobile phone if you’re logged into a Google account on both. Some believe that the allowance of location information is higher in mobile searches, meaning that it has more inspiration over the results. For example, you might be more likely to get a map result when searching for a restaurant on your phone than on a desktop. But it can also different which pay-per-click ads are shown, since Google’s ad platform, AdSense, allows publicists to geo-target ads based on zip code or postcode. You can test the effect of location on your search rankings with Mobile Moxie’s Separator tool.

Phone operating system

Mobile search results are also impacted by phone operating systems. This is especially true if Google thinks that the query might have an app-oriented intent. In this case, search engines are more likely to show an app pack—the colorful grids of app icons that link directly to an app in the app store. Keywords like “run tracker,” “fun game,” or “image editor” tend to rank apps, because these keywords are associated with apps that people use and download often. Google will only show app packs with apps that work on your phone’s operating system, generally iOS or Android. As most apps don’t work on desktop, app packs typically don’t display in desktop results.

Screen size

Google adapts search results to fit the device that you are using to search. This impacts how many results are visible on the page. When tablets flooded the market they added even more variations to SERP layouts.

Other factors

Finally, Google has new search capabilities and some are mobile-specific. For example, Google now offers search through augmented reality (AR). This technology allows Google to provide search results about what it finds in the camera frame on your mobile device. Let’s say you have a golden retriever dog—if you were to open your mobile device’s camera with your dog in the frame, Google will identify the dog breed and surface search results about it. Mobile SEO experts anticipate that search capabilities on devices will continue to get more interactive

× How can I help you?