Google Desktop Searches Differ About 86% From Mobile Searches

Jan 4, 2011 • 3:54 am | comments (8) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Local Search Engine Tips & Optimization

Bryson Meunier posted a study showing that search results on a desktop different from search results on a smart phone by about 86%.

That means, the results you get for a specific keyword search when done on a iPhone or Android phone will 86% of the time be different in some way then if you conducted the same search on a desktop browser.

Bryson said that most SEOs have claimed there are no major differences between the two. I don't really remember respected SEOs saying that but maybe they have. I do know there aren't many SEO changes one should make between optimizing their pages for desktop versus iPhone or Android phones, specifically. Okay, this is an over simplification of the process and I've explained a lot what you should be aware of.

Overall, as Bryson said, the majority of the difference in the search results has to do with Google showing you more locally related results. Google feels, if you are searching on a mobile device, your search intent is more locally specific. He documented what he saw were the main differences. He said:

  • Local results more likely in mobile, so Google Places listings sometimes appear higher in results than they do in desktop, and domains with local intent more likely to appear
  • Positions of vertical results likely different in smartphone results
  • Blended mobile ranking algorithm for mobile queries
  • Android Market or iTunes results for queries that include “download” or “app”
  • Brand and store filters don’t currently occur in mobile smartphone search
  • If CTR and bounce rate data is used to determine ranking in smartphone results, CTR and bounce rate more likely to vary in mobile smartphone listings, as listings in search suggest, abbreviated title line breaks and descriptions, unusable desktop sites in mobile results, increased engagement of mobile users and the variations in ranking mentioned above are all likely to change click through rates and bounce rates for smartphone searches

Forum discussion at Sphinn.

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Uri Lederman

01/04/2011 02:34 pm

I have noticed very much the same thing. Also, for those in a different region from the US, I have noticed that results are based on US data using local keyphrase, which makes the local listings a different from desktop local listings..


01/05/2011 11:48 am

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Thomas Meyers

01/17/2011 11:56 pm

Could the reason be that your Iphone has a different IP address than the PC you compared the results too. Just I thought....

Bradley Davis

05/04/2011 02:09 pm

86% is a massive difference! The search intent between a mobile user and desktop user can obviously be different, but I would not have expected such a variance.

Caramel Craze

10/17/2011 11:17 pm

There is a major difference. I'm ranking in the top ten for certain keywords on the mobile serach. Page 3 on the desktop


02/08/2012 11:27 pm

I almost went to work for a company who specializes in educating business owners with business that are interested in LOCAL searchers  and not NATIONWIDE searchers (such as owners of local restaurants or clubs etc.) on how to do certain things (usually to their web site) to make their site come up earlier and only when local searches are performed from mobile devices so i know there is a difference in the optimization game that so far seems so hush hush among internet specialists.   

miyuru gomes

02/09/2012 02:10 pm

yeah i search sri lanka hotels in my sony ericson smart phone and its not listed my site in top 100 but in desktop search i am in 48 rank do you guys know how to be in mobile phone top search list

Hype Tactics

07/05/2012 06:02 pm

Just signed up for google places yesterday, I think it's the first step before any other SEO step in driving traffic to your site locally.

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