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Tracking Mobile Rankings: Unlock the Secrets to Dominating Search Results

Are you tracking mobile rankings? Probably not… You may think your mobile rankings are the same as your desktop rankings but that may not be true. If you rely on mobile traffic, and most websites do, you need to track how your content is performing on mobile devices.

Mobile search traffic is becoming increasingly important for website owners and bloggers.

55%

of website traffic comes from mobile devices

Source: Mobile Internet Traffic

In the article we explain why Google uses your mobile version of your website for crawling and indexing of your website. How ranking of your content differs depending on the device used and how to optimize your content for mobile devices.

Let’s dive into the topic of tracking mobile rankings!

Tracking Mobile Rankings: Table of Contents

Mobile-First Indexing

mobile usability

Google uses mobile-first indexing, which means it uses a smartphone agent to crawl your website for indexing purposes.

Because the agent identifies itself as a smartphone, your website will deliver the mobile version of the website to Google. Any issues or problems with your mobile version of your content will affect your indexing and therefore your ranking potential with Google.

This is the reason you need to ensure your website works and looks great on mobile devices.

Official Google Documentation: Mobile-first indexing

Creating a Mobile Friendly Site

So, how exactly do you create a mobile friendly site? Well, let’s briefly explain the main factors that make your site mobile friendly.

Mobile Friendly Theme

theme design

Pick a theme that is mobile friendly. Nowadays, every theme you can buy – and even free themes – are mobile friendly. Well, at least they claim to be mobile friendly.

The truth, however, is that many of these themes are bloated with many “features” and add-ons that slow down your site.

So…

Choose a Fast, Lightweight Theme

Minimalist themes load quickly, which is precisely what impatient visitors want, especially when they’re on the move and have limited bandwidth.

They don’t have time for large images, animation, carousels, and other useless widgets to load…

I recommend the GeneratePress theme. This is the theme used on this website, so I can personally recommend it for speed and ranking potential.

Pick a High Quality Hosting Provider

Your hosting provider is the service you use to run your web server. It can make a big difference to the responsiveness of your website – and also affects web server security. So, opting for the cheapest option is probably not the best choice.

In fact, I would say the cheapest solution is probably the worst option to choose. Hosting fees are usually quite small, so consider selecting a mid-range provider. You can start with the budget hosting plan initially when your site is small and you don’t have many visitors. You can always upgrade your plan as your website grows..

I recommend using SiteGround. This is the hosting provider I always choose for WordPress websites. It’s fast, has excellent tools to monitor and maintain your website, and offers good security and customer support.

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Optimize your Site for Speed

A typical web page contains many files that need to be downloaded for the page to display properly in a browser. Here is a list of some of these files:

  • HTML content
  • Javascript
  • CSS files (style sheets)
  • Fonts
  • Images

This list doesn’t include third-party API calls for social sharing widgets, analytics and other features that are common with some themes.

Adding an optimizer plugin helps by compressing and merging these files, enabling them to load more quickly. This is especially important for smartphones, which often have slower connections than desktops.

For WordPress users, I recommend using the SiteGround Optimizer plugin. It works on all WordPress websites and is completely free.

Get SiteGround Optimizer Plugin

Tracking Mobile Rankings: Desktop and Mobile Positions Are Not the Same

We’ve discussed mobile-first indexing already. This means Google will use your mobile version of your website for crawling and indexing your content.

That doesn’t mean than ranking of your content will be the same for desktop and mobile though.

john mueller

So, mobile first indexing is specifically about that technical aspect of indexing the content.

And we use a mobile Googlebot to index the content.

But once the content is indexed, the ranking side is still (kind of) completely separate.

– Google’s John Mueller

Mobile and Desktop Ranking are Personalized

In some situations the context of the searcher and the device used can affect rankings.

Here is Mueller’s explanation why different devices can influence ranking:

john mueller

And it’s normal that desktop and mobile rankings are different.

Sometimes that’s with regards to things like speed.

Sometimes that’s with regards to things like mobile friendliness.

Sometimes that’s also with regards to the different elements that are shown in the search results page.

For example if you’re searching on your phone then maybe you want more local information because you’re on the go.

Whereas if you’re searching on a desktop maybe you want more images or more videos shown in the search results.
So we tend to show …a different mix of different search results types.

And because of that it can happen that the ranking or the visibility of individual pages differs between mobile and desktop.

And that’s essentially normal. That’s a part of how we do ranking.

It’s not something where I would say it would be tied to the technical aspect of indexing the content.

– Google’s John Mueller

The needs of a user on a smartphone could be different than for someone sitting at a desktop or using a laptop.

Smartphone users are more likely to be on the move so more local results could be given priority. Faster loading websites could also be given priority for mobile users.

Factors that can influence your mobile rankings are:

  • Speed
  • Mobile-friendliness
  • Prioritized local information (especially for products or services)

Additionally, the mobile search app installed on the phone could have different personalized settings which could affect ranking positions.


Quotes from John Mueller are from this video:

Tools for Tracking Mobile Rankings

The first tool every website owner should use is Google Search Console. It’s a free tool that provides a wealth of information about your website, impressions, pages indexed and much more.

Google Search Console

Before accessing the data Google has on your website, you must establish a connection between your website and Google Search Console.

Once registered you will be able to see keywords you are ranking for, impressions, clicks and much more.

Select the Mobile Usability link in the sidebar to see any problems or issues with your mobile version of the website. You should find and fix mobile usability issues as a priority as it will affect your ranking potential.

Google Search Console is great but you’ll need to invest in a tool capable of tracking your keyword ranking positions for both desktop and mobile devices.

Fortunately, several excellent tools are available, depending on your budget. For website owners with substantial budgets, I recommend Ahrefs or SemRush.

If you’re operating on a more modest budget, or if you’re a new website owner or blogger, I suggest using a mid-tier tool like SE Ranking. This is the keyword ranking tool I personally use and recommend.

Depending on the plan you select, you can add a limited number of search engines to track your keywords. You have the option to choose between desktop and mobile tracking for each search engine.

Tracking Mobile Rankings: Select a Search Engine - SE Ranking
Select a Search Engine – SE Ranking

You can track keywords from both desktop and mobile from a search engine and a particular country as shown in the screenshot below.

Track keywords in Google for USA for both desktop and mobile - SE Ranking
Track keywords in Google for USA for both desktop and mobile – SE Ranking

Other keyword trackers have similar features.

Tracking Mobile Rankings: Final Thoughts

Thanks for reading! Here is a quick summary of the main points:

  • Mobile and Desktop ranking positions can be different
  • You need to track your mobile ranking positions as mobile traffic is important
  • Create a mobile friendly website (choose a fast, lightweight theme and a good hosting provider)
  • Use Google Search Console to monitor your site and detect mobile usability issues
  • Use a keyword tracker tool to monitor your desktop and mobile ranking positions

Now you know how tracking mobile rankings helps with ensuring your content is doing well with mobile visitors and alerting you of any mobile issues you have on your website.

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