Mobile Search Success: What High-Ranking Pages Have in Common

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by Ayaz Nanji

What characteristics do Web pages that rank well on Google’s mobile search engine have in common? Do these pages differ from high-ranking desktop results?

To find out, Searchmetrics analyzed the top 30 mobile phone and desktop search results for 10,000 popular keywords on the U.S. version of Google.com.

Overall, the researchers found the top results on both mobile and desktop have the same core characteristics in common: they perform well (i.e., load quickly and consistently) and contain high-quality, relevant content that comprehensively covers the relevant topic.

However, the analysis also found that pages which rank higher in mobile phone searches do tend to differ from those that rank higher in desktop searches in some key technical and user experience areas.

Below, key findings from the report

Technical Factors

High-ranking pages in mobile search tend to load quickly; the average loading time for the top 10 results is 1.10 seconds.

This speed may be due to smaller file sizes; top mobile search results are 25% smaller on average compared with top desktop results.

Top mobile results are less likely to incorporate Flash compared with top desktop results (5% of top mobile sites include vs. 14% desktop).

Content and User Experience

Top pages in mobile search tend to differ in font presentation compared with top desktop sites: above the fold—the visible area without scrolling—the average font size for mobile results is significantly larger; in the central area, however, average font size is smaller.

High-ranking mobile search results include fewer images on average compared with desktop pages (4 vs. 9), and also contain fewer interactive elements (buttons, menus etc.) on average.

Text content on high-ranking mobile search results tends to be shorter compared with high-ranking desktop pages; however, top ranking content across all platforms has been increasing in length over the past year.

About the research: The report was based on an analysis of top 30 mobile phone and desktop search results for 10,000 popular keywords on the U.S. version of Google.com.