Why Search Results Differ in Mobile and Desktop Rankings – John Muller Explains 2021

Google’s John Mueller answered an interesting question about why mobile devices and desktop computers may have different search rankings.

Muller provided several personalization-related factors to explain why these two types of searches are sometimes different.

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Why Do Desktop and Mobile Search Rankings Differ?

The person asking the question is interested in knowing how to diagnose that a website may not perform as well as desktop search in mobile search.

Google’s John Mueller pointed out that indexing and ranking are two different things.

Just because we are in the mobile device indexing environment in the first place does not mean that the mobile version and the desktop version will rank the same because they are indexed as mobile devices.

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Difference in Rankings is Due to Personalization

Google’s John Mueller confirmed that the mobile index is just an index and has nothing to do with the ranking part of the algorithm.

It also shows that personalization has played a role in occasional differences in search rankings between mobile and desktop searches.

Mueller explained that someone’s needs on a mobile device may be different from someone’s needs on a desktop device.

Therefore, if someone is trying to diagnose why there is a difference in rankings between devices, it may be useful to understand why the mobile version of the highest-ranking website in mobile devices and personalized environments may be preferable to the lowest-ranking page.

Source: English Google SEO office-hours from June 11, 2021

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