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The Difference Between Mobile and Desktop Search Results

Posted on 11.10.2014

Google search results vary greatly depending on the device users leverage to browse according to a new study from Searchmetrics.

Searchmetrics’ US Google Ranking Factors 2014 study reveals that 36 percent of Web destinations (URLs) shown in mobile search results are different from those that appear for the same searches carried out on a desktop or laptop. In fact, the study found that on average, 23 percent of results were from completely different domains.

“Google is increasingly focused on the intent and context of search queries,” said Marcus Tober, Searchmetrics’ founder and CTO. “It understands that these vary between devices, and consequently delivers results quite differently on mobile phones and traditional computers. For mobile searches it has additional information about the searcher, such as their location, which also impacts the results it delivers. Our research demonstrates that marketers need to focus on different areas if they are to increase visibility on smartphones.”

It is also important to note that the study found mobile results tend to display pages with a smaller file size than those delivered on desktops or laptops. In addition, mobile search results on Google.com tend to include pages with fewer backlinks from other sites than the results for the same searches on desktops and laptops. According to Searchmetrics, this makes sense because mobile content generates fewer adhoc links, as mobile users are less likely to link to dedicated mobile pages.

“The difference in number of links occurs particularly because many companies use dedicated mobile pages. If more companies start using responsive design - which automatically optimizes the same page to suit different devices - you wouldn’t see fewer or even no overall differences in backlinks or social links because it’s the same URLs,” said Tober.


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