Should You Use Different Ranking Strategies for Mobile And Desktop Searches?

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The short answer to this question is yes. While many website owners already understand the importance of having a mobile version for their customers, we often forget to consider how the search engines may be ranking it. While you need to have your website optimized for a good mobile user experience, a major study done last year, the first of its kind, really clarified and solidified what you should be focusing on.

Google launched an earth shattering update back in April of 2015, which essentially gave preferential treatment on mobile search results to domains that were optimized for mobile. While many marketers referred to this update as Mobilegeddon, it actually made perfect sense. Doing what it always does, Google was taking giant steps to ensure their consumers were having the experience they desired. Unfortunately, it sent many businesses scrambling, as some literally seemed to vanish from the mobile search results.

The study performed by Searchmetrics set out to uncover some key questions. Which ranking factors differ for mobile and desktop sites? Which ranking factors have become more important for mobile, particularly since the Google mobile update? Up until now, we've all been making a lot of assumptions, but their research analyzed real, top-ranking sites.

According to the findings of the study, they were able to categorize the top 3 factors for mobile into Content, Technical Components, and User Experience.

Content is extremely important to your website's ranking, whether we're discussing mobile or desktop. However, there are a few mobile specific strategies to note.

Your total word count on mobile should ultimately be less than what is on your desktop version. You want to keep it as short as you can, while including all the critical details.
Keyword density is still a factor, and the study found that mobile sites ranking well had a higher keyword density than their desktop counterparts.

Technical Components are extremely important for both desktop and mobile, but appear to weigh more heavily on mobile devices. After all, people who are using their mobile devices are often on the go and have less patience to wait, so this shift would make sense.

As a general rule, avoid using Flash on mobile whenever possible. Many users won't be able to even access it, and it also slows things down. Use HTML5 instead.
Overall site speed is very important, especially on mobile. Search engines know that users don't want to wait, so if your site is slow to load, it will drastically affect your ranking -- and not in a good way!

User Experience is always crucial, but there are a few key factors that were noticed in the study.

Great images are important for all websites, but you will need to keep them to a minimum on your mobile site. They can really slow your load time, and the study showed that top-ranking sites had just 4 images on their mobile sites, versus 9 on their desktop sites.

Internal and inbound links seem to be diminishing in importance on mobile sites. Any links on your mobile site must be used meaningfully, and be easy for your users to access. With the rise of social media, people are more likely to share your content than to link directly to it, which is another correlating factor to your site's ranking.

In summary, there are striking differences between mobile and desktop ranking factors, so make sure you're looking at the two separately -- lumping them into one plan simply won't be effective anymore. While many of the factors are important for either version, they can effect your search ranking results in very different ways.
#desktop #mobile #ranking #searches #strategies

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