Mobile search has changed since the Google mobile update, which was launched on April 21, 2015 and is known under the name Mobilegeddon. We will outline the relevance of mobile search today, the impact of Mobilegeddon on mobile search results and the differences between the ranking factors for mobile compared to desktop based on the new Searchmetrics study.
Relevance of Mobile Search
Internet usage on mobile devices has more than doubled in the past two years, worldwide as well as in Switzerland. According to the latest Media Use Index, 80% of Swiss Internet users access the web also from their smartphones.
In addition, Searchmetrics data demonstrates that many ecommerce customers search for product information on their smartphones. The following graphic shows the search volume for some ecommerce keywords by device.
Impact of Mobilegeddon
After the Google mobile update, the number of websites that are not optimized for mobile devices has declined in mobile search. The following graphic from Searchmetrics shows that non-mobile-friendly URLs suffered from declining ranking positions after Mobilegeddon, whereas mobile-friendly websites benefited.
The following graphics show the development of the SEO visibility for two relevant Swiss websites – one of them is mobile-friendly and the other one is not.
Toppreise.ch: Not Mobile-Friendly
As you can see, the SEO visibility of Blick.ch increased significantly after Mobilegeddon, while Toppreise.ch lost SEO visibility because of the missing optimization for mobile devices.
Due to the high relevance of mobile search and the Google mobile algorithm, it is now imperative to have a mobile-optimized website (ideally with a responsive web design).
Ranking Factors: Mobile vs. Desktop
The new Searchmetrics study analyzed average values of the top 10 landing pages and ranking correlations of the top 30 search results in Google.de. It revealed the following important differences between the ranking factors for mobile compared to desktop:
- Local Search: Local parameters are even more important in mobile search. If you have a local business, you need to take the SEO ranking factors for local search into account.
- Technical Factors: Pages for mobile search should have a smaller file size and a faster loading time. Flash elements should be avoided.
- User Experience:
- Font size: For content above the fold (part of the page that is visible without scrolling), you should use bigger font sizes for mobile than for desktop.
- Interactive and structuring elements: As there is less space on mobile devices, the top mobile search results typically contain less interactive and structuring page elements. Use such elements purposefully and not too frequently.
- Ads: Ads usually have a negative effect on page speed and increase the file size. Thus you should reduce ads on mobile-optimized pages.
- Internal Links: On average, the top 30 mobile search results have fewer internal links than the corresponding desktop results. Links for mobile should have enough space, because touch control is less precise than mouse clicks. Limit the number of links on mobile content to the most relevant ones.
- Images: Even though the use of images has increased in general, the analyzed mobile search results have fewer images than the high-ranking desktop results. Use images purposefully and optimize the image file size for the mobile version.
- Content: The texts of the top search results are longer compared to last year’s study. But mobile search results still contain slightly fewer words than desktop results. The use of keywords, proof terms and relevant terms is important for both mobile and desktop search.
- Social Signals and Backlinks: In general, mobile search results have fewer social signals and backlinks than desktop results. One reason is that mobile-optimized pages are sometimes located on a separate mobile URL (e.g m.example.ch). But normally, people use the desktop URLs for linking and sharing. In addition, some established websites with a lot of social shares and backlinks are not mobile-friendly and as a result have disappeared from the top ranking positions. The correlations show that social signals and backlinks are still relevant SEO ranking factors.
The following infographic from Searchmetrics summarizes all results from the study.
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