Not All SEO is the Same: The Difference Between Mobile and Desktop

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VIEWS: 6820 Views CATEGORY: SEO READING TIME: 5 Min To Read UPLOADED ON: 28 Oct 2015

Your users are on the move. Over the summer, Google officially announced that “more Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries including the US and Japan.” So unless your sites are optimized for mobile, potential customers are walking right past you – both figuratively and, in some cases, literally.

How can you reach these mobile users? Well, you probably already know SEO – but do you know mobile SEO? Let’s take a look at the similarities and the differences between Desktop and Mobile SEO techniques.

The Similarities

Most of the standard SEO elements which apply to desktop also apply to mobile as well. These are all basic elements which create a great user experience. After all, people who use mobile devices are still, well, people. So the techniques used to reach them are ones you already know such as:

·         Engaging, informative content

·         Keyword optimization

·         Natural backlinks

There’s no one single trick to great internet marketing. But when you keep your users in mind and correctly anticipate their needs, success will generally follow. So, when it comes to mobile, remember that you don’t need to re-invent the SEO wheel.

The Differences

There are still a number of unique areas related specifically to mobile, however. We’ll go into detail on each one later, but here’s an overview for now:

·         Local Listing Optimization

·         Voice Search (Siri and Cortana)

·         Maps (both Google and Apple)

·         Mobile Web Presence

Local Listing Optimization


Local SEO is vital to any online business, even if the business is entirely virtual. One of the most effective ways to boost your local listings is through the correct use of local content. Local SEO optimization can really help your SERP.

This works especially well when the business has little competition in its market. Even if the business is entirely virtual, you can still boost your SERP by including local SEO techniques. Done well, local listing optimization can put your listing into the “sweet spot” -- below the paid search ads and above the traditional organic results.


Maps are obviously very useful for a mobile device. After all, mobile users are often likely already outside their homes. At least, they’re more likely to be out than desktop users. If someone is searching for your industry while they’re out and about, you want that search to lead right to your front door.

Apple Maps and Google Maps are among the 25 most popular apps in the US. As you’d expect, mobile users often need location and directional info. But many businesses fail to optimize for maps. Apple Maps, in particular, is often overlooked.

Local listings, as described above, are a great start towards putting your business on the map. But you’ll also want to make some specific tweaks in order to fully optimize those maps. Use Google Maps and Apple Maps for each respective platform.      

Above all, you want to make sure your address is correct on your site. This sounds simple but you’d be amazed at how often this doesn’t occur. You also want to make sure all company email addresses and office phone numbers are correct. In larger organizations, you want to regularly update this information as employees are likely to come and go with some frequency.

Voice Commands

Hands-free searching on mobile devices is growing in popularity. A lot of this involves searching for physical locations. Users often conduct hands-free searches while driving.

To optimize, you mainly want your site to have accurate directions. With iOS devices, in particular, you also want to make sure your Yelp page has up-to-date information on your address. Also, you might want to insert the names of some local landmarks into your directions (e.g. “We’re right across the street from the famous Shelbyville Farmer’s Market.”)

Mobile Web Presence

Even in 2015, it’s still shocking to see which businesses don’t have an effective mobile presence. Beyond just small businesses, even some big brands are still playing catch-up when it comes to engaging with mobile customers. While there are a lot of SEO techniques which apply to both desktop and mobile, there is a marked difference in the design.

Be careful that your mobile site isn’t dominated by ads. What seems unobtrusive on the desktop can be completely obscuring on mobile. Mobile sites usually need a clean, simple look.

Don’t forget to include a click-to-call button. Mobile users are more likely to call your business when the option is there. After all, they’re already on their phones.


Mobile sites need a specific type of content. While long-form content has a lot of advantages on the desktop, mobile users expect brief, straight-forward information. To capture their attention, you’ll need to lead with a strong hook and then continue with a flow of engaging content.

Gotta Get Mobile

The blunt truth is this: You need to spend about 50% of your efforts optimizing your client’s mobile presence. Simply designed for desktop and then adapting to mobile will no longer work. You need mobile in mind from day one.

Emphasis on mobile will require a few new tools. We recommend Google’s Mobile Friendly tool. This will give you an idea of how mobile-friendly your site is. If your site hits enough of Google’s metrics, you’ll get a “mobile friendly” indicator below your URL in the search results.

Mobile + Desktop = Success

Congratulations!  Many companies do mobile very poorly. Simply being aware of your mobile needs has already placed you ahead of the game. Implementing mobile can be a little tricky, but if you know desktop SEO you should do just fine.

Mobile is where all the action is, and these mobile SEO techniques will boost your brand among all your potential customers.  


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