Getting started with SEO for mobile in 2024

The better a website ranks on Google, the more new visitors, potential customers and brand awareness is created. One step that should not be skipped in an SEO project today is SEO for mobile. With the right strategy for mobile devices, the respective website is visited more and business goals are successfully achieved. In this article, I like to discuss everything that is important to consider during an SEO optimization for mobile.

What are the numbers around mobile and desktop visitor numbers?

It is impossible to imagine the streets without the cell phone. On the subway, on the train, in a coffee shop and even in stores, everyone walks around with a phone in their hand. The number of cell phone users has grown significantly in recent years. In addition, the capabilities of a cell phone have also grown along with this increase. More and more users are choosing to use the cell phone for online shopping instead of the desktop. Below I have listed some recent figures around usage between mobile and desktop devices:

  • Mobile Internet traffic in 2021, according to Web analytics tool StatCounter, had a global market share of 54.06%, compared to 43.6% for desktop Internet traffic.
  • A targeted study by Google shows that more than half of searches are conducted from a mobile device.
  • Digital media consumption in the United States takes place 71% of the time on a mobile device, according to research by comScore. In this, 51% are on a cell phone and 20% on a tablet.
  • The longer pages take to load, the higher a website’s bounce rate becomes, according to a report by Unbounce. 49% of visitors admitted to leaving the page immediately if it still did not load after 3 seconds.
  • Worldwide, mobile traffic fills about 56.6% of total global Internet traffic, according to a report by Datareportal.

These figures reflect how important it is for a website to be properly designed for mobile devices. Optimizing mobile SEO not only contributes to a better user experience, but also ensures good visibility for all people using a mobile device.

How many Google users search mobile and how many via desktop?

The above figures show that more and more users are choosing to use Google via a mobile device. Below I have listed some figures that have examined this difference:

  • Worldwide, more than half use Google via a mobile device, according to Google internal research.
  • Web analysis tool StatCounter Global Stats shows that mobile Internet traffic has been on the rise worldwide since October 2026. By March 2023, mobile Internet traffic attracts a 59.42% market share worldwide. Internet traffic for desktop at this time was 38.53%.
  • Google indicates that the number of mobile users will only continue to increase more in the coming years. To keep up with this growth, it is more important than ever for websites to focus on mobile SEO.

As the figures show, mobile Internet traffic is growing by the day on Google. So optimizing SEO for mobile is a crucial step within an SEO project. With the help of this integration, the largest possible audience is reached and a company enjoys more visibility on the search engine and more users directly on the website.

What is the difference between mobile Googlebot and desktop Googlebot

Googlebot is a web crawler from Google. Using this feature, a website is better indexed in search results. There is a specific Desktop Googlebot and a specific Mobile Googlebot. Exactly what the differences between these two versions are, I explain here:

  1. User-agent: the mobile Googlebot has a different user-agent than the Desktop Googlebot. The mobile version also identifies itself as a mobile browser, while the desktop version identifies itself as a desktop version.
  1. Rendering: the mobile Googlebot is designed to optimize content views for mobile devices. Because a mobile device is more compact, has a different size and is programmed differently, it is important to have a rendering. The same goes for a desktop Googlebot that simulates everything to optimize views on desktops and laptops.
  1. Crawling speed: the crawling speed of the mobile Googlebot is faster and higher than the desktop version. This is partly because there are more mobile users, and so it is in Google’s interest to optimize this, but it also has to do with the fact that there are more mobile Web pages.
  1. Canonical URLs: a mobile website often has a different URL structure than the same website on a desktop. To prevent this from causing problems in indexing the mobile website, mobile Googlebot uses a specific tag. This identifies the canonical URLs for the mobile version.

Although both the mobile Googlebot and the desktop Googlebot have the same purpose, they work specifically for the type of device and content it is used for. Thus, content on a mobile device is indexed optimally for users, while the desktop Googlebot ensures that this happens on desktop devices. Thanks to both Googlebots, users enjoy the most pleasant search and usage experience possible.

Explained in a table

FactorMobile SEODesktop SEO
Page speedHuge importance for mobile users. Slow load times result in a higher bounce rate.Even though users on desktop still expect fast load times, a load time on desktop may be slightly longer than on a mobile device.
User InterfaceMobile devices have a smaller screen than a desktop. It is important that a website’s interface respond well to this. Because of this, it is important that buttons are larger, information is clearly divided and everything is readable without zooming in.A desktop has more space to use. This means that more complexity may be present on a page. However, even on a desktop, it is important that usability is always paramount.
Local SEOLocal SEO is very important for mobile SEO. In fact, most mobile searches are related to the environment. For example, consider “best restaurant nearby” or “gas station nearby.A desktop SEO does not have to take local SEO into account as much. These searches tend to be more general and less site-specific.
Pop-upsNote that Google does not prioritize mobile websites with clunky pop-ups. In fact, these pop-ups reduce usability on a small screen.Despite the fact that pop-up are not really known for their usability, Google is less strict on desktop websites in this regard than on mobile devices.
Vertical DesignFor mobile websites, always provide an uncluttered vertical layout where visitors can easily scroll from top to bottom.A desktop website has a horizontal screen, but also scrolls from top to bottom. So always make sure the design continues vertically uncluttered. However, because a desktop is larger, there is more freedom around layout and design.
Text Size & SpacingText on a mobile device should be large enough to read. Provide enough space between interactive elements, such as buttons or links, to prevent users from accidentally pressing the wrong buttonsThe larger space of a desktop allows for more design convenience. Still, provide an airy design to fill the large area of a desktop.

Is SEO for mobile more interesting for websites or for web shops?

For which websites does mobile SEO really matter? And is this more interesting for a webshop than for a regular website? In fact, these two types of websites have a number of differences. Despite the fact that for both it is very important to perform mobile SEO, it can be established that it is even more important for an online store. A web shop targets consumers directly. The majority of consumers choose to store online via a mobile device rather than a desktop. So for an online store, it is very important to perform mobile SEO optimization. I would like to explain this further on the basis of the following aspects:

  • Mobile user experience: mobile usability is crucial for an online store. A mobile user is looking for an online store where all products are easy to find, where checkout is quick and easy, and where everything is easy to read. The better a website is designed for mobile devices, the higher the conversion rate and growth of potential customers becomes.
  • Load times: as briefly mentioned above, users have less patience when visiting a website via a mobile device. A fast or slow load time can make or break a new purchase. Mobile SEO makes the load time for mobile devices as fast as possible, contributing to a lower bounce rate.
  • Search functionality: to get new users to a Web site, care must be taken to ensure that these new visitors find the Web site. Search functionality achieves this. Make sure the website appears at the top of search pages using mobile SEO.
  • Product descriptions: a good product description is very important for an online store. With the help of a good description, which includes several keywords, the product appears faster in searches.
  • Images and videos: an online store needs quality images and videos to promote products. These slow down the loading time of your pages because they are heavy files. So make sure all images and videos are optimized for a mobile device to keep load times and user experience as good as possible.

For online shops, mobile SEO is of great importance. With the help of mobile SEO optimization, the web shop becomes quickly visible, remains user-friendly on mobile devices, mobile users enjoy fast load times and a clear layout. In short, mobile SEO ensures that visitors get the online shopping experience that encourages them to make purchases.

How do I determine if mobile SEO is relevant to my website?

For almost every website, performing mobile SEO is important. Because today the majority of users use search engines via a mobile device, it is important that a website is also customized to meet these needs. In the points below, I explain how important mobile SEO is for a website based on various factors.

  • Use Google Analytics or another web analytics tool to determine how many website visitors are using a mobile device. Is this a high number or even the majority of all visitors? Then it’s definitely time to optimize mobile SEO.
  • Experience for yourself how a mobile user uses the website by visiting the page yourself via a mobile device. Navigate to different pages and preferably do this several times from different types of mobile devices. This provides real-world testing to see if the website meets expectations or if it needs additional mobile SEO.
  • Also check out the websites of other competitors. Are they using mobile SEO? If the answer to this question is yes, then it’s time to make the move to mobile SEO as well. In fact, there is a good chance that potential customers will be lost as a result.
  • Analyze the purpose of the website and also ask whether it is actually relevant to optimize mobile SEO. Companies that target business services for other large companies often benefit less from mobile SEO than a small business targeting consumers directly.

For most websites, mobile SEO is an important component. As users around the world increasingly choose to use search engines from their mobile devices, it is important as a website that you go with this flow. Thus, the website is optimized and more visibility is achieved.

What are the differences between mobile SEO and desktop SEO?

There are several points that distinguish mobile SEO and desktop SEO. I have highlighted the main differences below:

  1. Screen size and user experience: because mobile devices have a smaller screen than a desktop device, it is important for a website design to adapt to the device on which the website is being visited. For example, a cell phone needs a vertical layout, while on a desktop there is room for more horizontal columns. It is also important to ensure that visitors via a mobile device still enjoy fast load times, that text is easy to read and that the overall user experience is pleasant. Mobile SEO helps to improve these aspects of a website.
  1. Search intent: mobile users often have different types of searches than desktop users. Mobile users are often looking for quick solutions to questions or problems. Consider, for example, finding the nearest locksmith, compact explanations of a task or a brief answer to a question. Mobile SEO ensures that content on a website is optimized to the desire for accessible and compact information.
  1. Structure and content: mobile SEO optimizes website content and structure. Often, mobile Web pages have more compact content and different structure, contributing to a clear and structured interface for the user.
  1. Link building: because a mobile device has a smaller screen than a desktop, it is important to reduce the amount of link building on a mobile website.

Mobile SEO and desktop SEO have essentially the same goal and do so through the same steps. However, mobile SEO ensures that these steps keep the specific needs of mobile users in mind. By adapting the above points to the mobile device, the website becomes more user-friendly and faster to be seen in the mobile search engines.

.Are there similarities between mobile SEO and desktop SEO?

In addition to the differences between mobile SEO and desktop SEO, there are some similarities. For example, both are aimed at creating more online visibility in a search engine. I have listed some of the similarities below:

  1. Relevance and quality of content: for desktop SEO and mobile SEO, the focus is on making a website’s content relevant. The higher the quality of the content is, the more it offers value to visitors. Also, a quality text is more likely to contain useful keywords that contribute to better search engine rankings.
  1. User experience: the goal of both mobile SEO and desktop SEO is to make a website as user-friendly as possible. A fast load time, an uncluttered layout, a clearer interface and clear text, among other things, make the conversion rate higher and the bounce rate lower.
  1. Technical optimization: both SEO also focus on the technical side of the website. By technically optimizing a website, it becomes more quickly visible on the search engines. This technical optimization includes several aspects, including alt tags, robots.txt, meta tags and HTTPS.
  1. Link building: both mobile SEO and desktop SEO focus on processing high-quality links. Using link building helps build trust and professionalism. Link building can include handling social media links, guest blogging or related product links.

Despite mobile SEO and desktop SEO targeting a different type of device, they have the same goal in mind. Both employ SEO strategies to make a Web site as visible and user-friendly as possible for users.

How is technical SEO used to improve mobile SEO?

An important part of mobile SEO, is optimizing technical SEO. What exactly are the tasks involved in this technical optimization, and how do they contribute to better performance on mobile devices? I like to explain it by the following points:

  1. Responsive design: for mobile SEO, it is vital to have a responsive design. This means that a Web site automatically adapts to the device format the visitor is using. Because both cell phones and tablets have different sizes, it is important that the website automatically uses the best views for the user.
  1. Mobile-friendly test: Google has a handy mobile-friendly test that checks how user-friendly the website is for mobile devices. Possible problems that badly affect the mobile user experience of the website are also conveniently named here.
  1. Fast loading times: because mobile users often have less patience, it is critical that the website load as quickly as possible. Mobile SEO helps to optimize this.
  1. Image compression and optimization: because mobile devices have less powerful processors and often have less powerful Internet connections, compression helps to improve website load times. Images are offset to the mobile format, so the mobile device has to work less hard to load all the information.
  1. AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages): AMP is another important aspect which contributes to faster loading time of a website app on a mobile device.
  1. Local SEO: Many mobile users are looking for quick information or quick solutions. Think about finding the nearest supermarket, the best hotels in town, and so on. Using local SEO ensures that the website appears as high as possible with such searches.
  1. App indexing: should there also be a mobile app, make sure app indexing is used. This also incorporates app content into mobile SEO. So this helps the app also appear better in search results.

Technical SEO is used to ensure the best search engine ranking. The easier the website is for users to find, the more new customers will appear on the website.

How is SEO content improved for mobile SEO?

As I mentioned, it is important that strong mobile SEO content is short and sweet. Below I provide some examples that explain how mobile SEO content is optimized:

  • Keywords: because mobile SEO often includes shorter texts, it is important that the right keywords are present in these texts. Make sure to use relevant keywords as much as possible and make sure they are well matched to the mobile users’ keywords.
  • Catchy titles and meta descriptions: web page titles on a mobile device are shorter and smaller. Therefore, it is important that they be written as briefly and concisely as possible. short and catchy titles grab the mobile user’s attention, which causes them to click on the web link.
  • Fast load times: optimizing a website’s load time is one of the most important mobile SEO points. A fast load time keeps the bounce rate low and ensures that the conversion rate actually goes up.
  • Use of images and videos: it is important that images and videos are optimized for mobile devices. Make sure images look visually strong, but that they are compressed to mobile sizes to avoid having a negative effect on mobile load time.
  • Use of local keywords: make sure local SEO is incorporated into the content. Because mobile users often perform locally related searches, it is important to incorporate this into mobile SEO. This is done by, for example, incorporating the local keyword in the title, the short description and reflecting it in the rest of the content on the website.
  • Content structure: don’t forget to adapt the structure and layout to the mobile device. Make sure long text is turned into short paragraphs when the website is visited on a mobile device, incorporate more bullet points and use intertitles in text to keep it readable and apply

By taking into account the above points in mobile SEO optimization for content, the website becomes visible in the search engine and the mobile users enjoy a user-friendly website.

Summary

Performing mobile SEO optimization is critical for today’s websites. With more than half of users worldwide choosing to perform searches via a mobile device, it is high time not to neglect mobile SEO in an SEO project. Mobile optimization ensures better search engine ranking, reduces bounce rate and increases conversion rate. To achieve this result, it is important not only to focus on good search engine visibility, but also to optimize the website for mobile use. The better the layout, content and structure is adapted to the mobile format, the more enjoyable it is to visit the website via a mobile device and the more customers will choose to purchase the services or products from this website. In short, mobile SEO ensures that the website is a treat for mobile users to use.

Senior SEO-specialist

Ralf van Veen

Senior SEO-specialist
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I have been working for 10 years as an independent SEO specialist for companies (in the Netherlands and abroad) that want to rank higher in Google in a sustainable manner. During this period I have consulted A-brands, set up large-scale international SEO campaigns and coached global development teams in the field of search engine optimization.

With this broad experience within SEO, I have developed the SEO course and helped hundreds of companies with improved findability in Google in a sustainable and transparent way. For this you can consult my portfolio, references and collaborations.

This article was originally published on 22 March 2024. The last update of this article was on 22 March 2024. The content of this page was written and approved by Ralf van Veen. Learn more about the creation of my articles in my editorial guidelines.