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Why Websites Rank Differently On Mobile & Desktop Platforms

Updated on: 2 July 2021

Why Websites Rank Differently On Mobile & Desktop Platforms

As a website owner, you will undoubtedly want your website to rank consistently high in Google’s search results. However, achieving this goal can be a challenge. There are various factors that contribute to your website’s ranking. You may even have noticed that your website ranks differently on mobile and desktop platforms.

This difference in ranking will likely spark the following question in your mind – why is there a difference between desktop and mobile search rankings? John Mueller – Google’s Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst – has recently shed some light on this matter, highlighting various factors that could cause this issue to happen. Allow us to break down his statement and share what you can do to improve your website’s ranking.

What is causing this difference?

Mueller has pointed out that the main factor causing this issue is your website’s mobile friendliness. Mobile load speed is one of the key metrics that Google prioritises when determining a website’s ranking. Therefore, if your website takes longer to load on mobile than desktop, your ranking will probably suffer on mobile devices.

Google prioritising mobile-friendly websites makes sense since nearly everyone carries a smartphone with them at all times. If they encounter any question that requires a quick Google search, they will more likely access the search engine through their mobile devices.

However, mobile friendliness is not the sole determining factor. Another metric that Mueller name-dropped is ‘personalisation’. He reasons that the needs of a mobile user will likely differ from a desktop user, which means the context of the search and the device used can alter a website’s ranking in specific situations.

For example, if you use your smartphone to search for something on Google, the search engine is more likely to display local content, especially when you are on the go. After all, when you are outside, what you search for is expected to be more localised, such as looking up directions to your destination or finding the most popular food establishments near your current position. Therefore, a website’s content and its target audience may also factor into the difference in ranking.

How do you improve your website’s ranking?

Now that we have a better understanding of how Google’s search algorithm determines a website’s ranking, the next question you are likely to ask yourself is, “How do I improve my website’s ranking?” After all, this is the most important objective for every website owner.

While content may not necessarily be king in the SEO game, it is still an essential piece of the puzzle and should be one of your top priorities. So for starters, I would recommend you update your website regularly with content that is relevant to your target audience. After all, if your audience is not interested in your content, why would they visit your website in the first place.

However, content alone is insufficient. You need to complement your exciting articles with the right keywords. Therefore, before you start to write the articles, you need to research the relevant keywords your target audience is using to find your website. Keywords provide us with vital information about our audiences, such as what they want to know and how they want the information to be presented.

For example, if someone is searching for “A beginner’s guide to improving my website’s ranking”, you will know this person is a newcomer to the world of SEO and is looking for content that helps with this topic. Knowing what content this person is looking for and the keywords he or she uses to search for information allow you to craft the desired content that can rank well on Google.

Additionally, I would advise you to optimise your website for desktop and mobile viewing. Doing so will increase the usability of your website on both platforms, which should increase its value in Google’s eyes. Moreover, as Mueller mentioned in his statement, load speed plays a significant factor in determining the ranking of your website. Ensuring your website ranks high on mobile and desktop platforms also increase the likelihood of it garnering higher traffic.


No matter which device your target audience prefers, it is in your best interest to ensure your website is optimised for both platforms. I hope Mueller’s explanations and my suggestions have given you a better idea of what you can do to improve your website’s ranking.

However, if you are still struggling to obtain your desired ranking in Google’s search result pages, it is advisable for you to reach out to a digital marketing agency in Singapore. At Impossible Marketing, our team of digital marketers are equipped with the skill and expertise to help you establish an online presence. Give us a call at +65 9374 0111 to get started.