What Should You Prioritize: Desktop vs Mobile SEO Ranking

When optimizing your website, it’s always crucial to delineate between your desktop and mobile versions. When it comes to SEO and brand growth online, which version of your website should you focus on? Desktop or mobile?
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We all know that crafting a winning SEO strategy is a challenging yet rewarding effort to undertake. You need to ensure you’re using the right keywords, reaching your target audience, and ensuring your brand is in the position for growth

When optimizing your website, it’s always crucial to delineate between your desktop and mobile versions. When it comes to SEO and brand growth online, which version of your website should you focus on? Desktop or mobile?

Desktop vs. Mobile: Which One Should You Optimize For?

While the obvious answer is ‘both,’ of course, there’s a reason you should gravitate towards mobile SEO. Again, you want both forms of your website to reach your target audience, but mobile SEO has some not-so-hidden benefits

According to Google’s John Mueller, mobile should be at the forefront of any SEO specialist’s mind when developing strategies. Why? Google has prioritized mobile-first indexing. 

Mobile-First Indexing

Mobile-first indexing basically means Google uses your mobile site over your desktop version when considering rankings. 

Naturally, Google was in the business of prioritizing desktop searches. Now, in the age of smartphones, a majority of Google users actually access mobile sites more than they ever have before. The natural move? Mobile-first indexing. 

Mobile-first indexing started in earnest back in July 2019. That’s when Google switched over to mobile-first indexing and made it the default setting for every website. In September 2020, Google finally enabled all websites to engage in mobile-first indexing.

But there are a few caveats to mobile-first SEO. For example, you absolutely need to have the same content for both your desktop and mobile websites. This means every page, sentence, and image needs to work. Otherwise, you could lose some serious Internet traffic. Here, Google warns users:

A warning box from Google describing the dangers of not optimizing your mobile website
Google shares an important warning about proper mobile website SEO practices

But just because you have the same content doesn’t mean you’re in the clear either. Google may run into some issues when discerning your site layout. For SEO specialists, this is crucial to your success in your next digital marketing push.

When consulting with your digital marketing team, they’ll likely tell you that mobile is the way to go when optimizing your content.

How To Optimize For Mobile

Along with having a sound SEO strategy for your brand and mobile site, it’s important to follow these simple guidelines to get the most out of your mobile-first indexing. 

  • Use the same metadata. In SEO, metadata can help boost brand awareness. As such, you absolutely need to use the same exact metadata on both desktop and mobile sites. Yes, this means the same on-page SEO, alt text, and meta descriptions. While this may seem a bit obvious, it’s always good to check. When in doubt, use the same metadata. 
  • Use the best images possible. When crafting your mobile site and optimizing it for SEO, use high-quality images. This means avoiding low-resolution images with unsupported formats. This throws Google out of whack when indexing your site. And to tie it back to metadata, you need the same alt text for your images. 
  • Make your site device-friendly. Remember how more Google users access the search engine from mobile more than desktop? Use this as motivation to optimize your site for all mobile devices. Simply put, Google (and your target audience) will run into some issues if they can’t access your content. This is obviously a massive issue for SEO campaigns. 
  • Make content relevant. Like all good SEO practices, content should mirror what you’re optimizing for. It doesn’t make sense to place an image of something completely unrelated to your content next to it. Be sure to place images next to applicable and relevant content.
  • Make it easy to access. Above all, make it accessible. This means having your SEO content placed within reach of videos. There’s nothing more annoying than scrolling endlessly down a mobile site to find an accompanying video. Again, this causes both SEO problems with Google indexing as well as overall UX/UI issues. 

But What About My SEO Budget?

But what if your budget doesn’t lend itself to optimizing both equally? Well, then it’s ideal for pivoting towards mobile. Of course, it’s never advisable to ignore either version of your webpage.

But if we’re talking priority (and we always are), then mobile is your priority. But overall, ensure that your desktop and mobile websites are as similar as possible. If you hope to rank from SEO, you need everything as uniform as possible.

John Mueller reiterates that SEO specialists and website developers should opt for responsive design to eliminate headaches and ensure that Google is picking up your site in its rankings.

Conclusion: Desktop vs. Mobile

So, while you’re deliberating which SEO mistakes to avoid in crafting your compelling content, be sure to nail down a cohesive strategy towards your responsive mobile site. 

In short, make sure to put a ton of your SEO eggs into your mobile basket, but not all. After all, there are still some desktop users out there.


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