Mobile SEO vs. Desktop SEO: Similarities & Differences

Want to hear something interesting? The latest research by Google shows that these days, mobile users score higher than desktop users in terms of buyer intent.

That’s right—people who search for products and services using their mobile devices (most notably smartphones) are much more likely to buy than users who search for the same things using their desktop.

seo valley

And this can only mean one thing: That it’s time to focus on mobile SEO. Because if you’re not targeting mobile users yet, you are losing a lot of sales.

How do you start? Here’s everything you need to know. 

Google’s Switch to “Mobile First” Indexing

It wasn’t too long ago that Google’s indexing technology favored desktop websites. Even if you were using your smartphone, you would have gotten search results based on Google’s desktop index.

But things have changed. These days, Google is adapting a mobile-first indexing policy.

This means that when you’re using your smartphone, you will get results that are based on what Google has indexed from the mobile versions of websites. Focusing on mobile SEO is therefore more important than ever.

Mobile and Desktop SEO – Similarities and Differences

Do you already have a desktop SEO campaign in place? Then you don’t have to start from scratch, because mobile and desktop SEO resemble each other in many respects.

  • Content is important in both types. It’s true what they say—content will always be king. You just can’t rank for a target keyword without relevant and useful content that revolves around it.
  • User experience is another focus for both. Users should be able to navigate your site and easily find exactly what they need.
  • Finally, performance remains central to both desktop and mobile SEO. Online shoppers hate it when a website is always down or loads sluggishly.

All this said, there’s one overarching difference between desktop and mobile SEO—and that is audience focus.

Desktop SEO focuses on the general public, usually with no geographic focus.

Meanwhile, mobile SEO is typically focused on local search because most mobile users are looking for local results. Google knows where the mobile user is searching from while they are searching.

What to Do

Given all these, what should be your next move to take advantage of the mobile revolution?

Google recommends building a responsive website that adjusts itself to load properly on mobile devices. This is the gold standard—and it’s 100% true.

The problem is that most people start out designing their responsive site for desktop and then just makes it usable for mobile, almost as an afterthought.

Don’t make the same mistake.

Think “mobile first.”

Design your website for mobile users right away. Why? Because most of your traffic probably comes from mobile. In fact, almost all websites these days get at least 50% and as much as 80% of their traffic from smartphones. Check your Google Analytics and you might be surprised. 

Specific Action Steps

Many experts think that it’s worth learning CSS so that you can understand how responsive codes work. But this is easier said than done if you don’t have any background in tech.

The best way forward is to hire a web development and SEO company that specializes in both mobile and desktop SEO. Here are SEOValley, we can build your website so that it does well on both fronts.

If you have some coding abilities, then it’s a good idea to learn about the basic technical aspects of mobile SEO so you can apply them on your website. You might also want to learn these before you hire an agency so that you don’t go into the process blind:

  • Optimize the title tags, H1 headings, URLs, image alt text, meta descriptions, and content just as you would when doing standard desktop SEO. However, be sure to give special attention to the title tags and meta descriptions. You have to make them shorter and more persuasive. Why? Because mobile SERPs don’t display as much text as desktop SERPs. Your titles and descriptions are going to be cut short.
  • Remove any popups. They are annoying on a desktop and even more annoying on a small mobile screen.
  • Use schema markup. Getting rich snippets in the search results will make your website stand out.
  • Do you want special effects and animations? Don’t use Flash. Use HTML5 instead.
  • Think about click size. Make your menu buttons and other clickable elements big enough for finger taps. Ensure that they’re not too close to each other, or users will be annoyed when they end up clicking something they don’t mean to click.
  • Is your goal to make potential customers call you and book an appointment, for example? Add a “click to call” button to make this easier for them.

Finally, if you must absolutely have forms on your website, make sure they fit the screen and are easy to use. Are the fields too small? Make them bigger. Choose the right keyboard so that it’s easy for the user to type in their answers. Do they need to provide their phone number? The number keypad should automatically pull up. This simple change can have a dramatic impact on how many people actually complete your forms.


Call us today if you are interested in a mobile SEO strategy. SEOValley is a full-service online marketing agency that provides conventional SEO, mobile SEO, local optimization services, and even voice search SEO.