Differing SERP results on desktop, tablet, and mobile

Smartphone Internet usage has increased by 125% compared with just a 12% growth for desktops, so it’s important to know how Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) differ on smaller devices, and what this means for your business.
Rather than limiting the amount of results you see on a mobile or tablet, Google have tried to serve up a greater level of personalisation in the results; based on previous searches, your behaviour and how you interact with search results .
For example, searching on a mobile device, you are more likely to be given local information, based on the GPS location of your device, irrespective of whether your search includes any local search-terms.
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This means searches undertaken on a mobile won’t necessarily give you the same information as a desktop search. This isn’t essentially a bad thing however, mobile searches generally have different user intent and hence different needs to be served. Anyone accessing the Internet from a mobile is likely to be on the go, requiring very specific information, under greater time constraints than with a desktop search from home.
Overall trends seem to suggest that searches on mobile devices have a lower engagement time than desktop searches. Searching for particular queries on mobile devices can mean that the Click-Through-Rate (CTR) is not as high as with similar searches from desktop or tablet. This happens for a number of reasons, for example, searching for a weather update:
Due to the screen size, and increasingly now with Hummingbird, the weather forecast will be shown on the SERP. You’ve received your information and have no need to search anymore; therefore you won’t click through to another site.
However, CTRs and bounce rates can vary dramatically with mobile searches. Thanks to differing filters, there are fewer results to sort through, which may mean a higher CTR as results are more specific, having more relevance to the user.
Mobile and tablet SERPs are more likely to have results relating to applications that can be downloaded, increasing the interactive levels of a search. CTRs for these app pages, for users on mobile Internet, will be extremely high, but these kinds of results might not necessarily be included on a desktop search, or if they are, CTRs will be low.
What all this information amounts to is that depending on your industry or niche, it’s no longer enough to have a strategy that works effectively for desktop Internet searches alone.
Find out more about how mobile search is changing the way we use the internet and how we can help you to stay at the forefront with our mobile services.

Written by Alex Wright

Head of Search