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According to Google’s publisher, Jonh Mueller’s mobile and desktop ranking are different because in some searches the needs of the users are different depending on the device.
Here is the question
Why… How are desktop and mobile ranking different when we’ve already been switched to mobile-first indexing?”
John Mueller answered
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.
Further explanation by John Mueller
Following that, Mueller emphasized that the context and the device of the searcher can influence ranking results in some situations. The results for certain searches can differ by device, which can have an effect on rankings.
And, normally, 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 on the search results page. For example, if you’re searching on your phone, maybe you want more local information because you’re on the go.
On the other hand, if you’re searching on a desktop, maybe you’d prefer to see more images or videos in the search results. Therefore, we tend to present different types of search results depending on the user’s search criteria. Due to this, it has been known for mobile pages to be ranked or viewed differently than their desktop counterparts. That’s pretty much what happens all the time. Our ranking is based on that. In my opinion, it has nothing to do with the technical aspect of indexing content.”
Page Speed and Mobile Factors for Ranking Differences
Google’s Mueller answered:
‘Mobile-friendliness is a factor. There might also be other factors that play in there, specifically with regards to mobile and desktop. These are kind of the differences that are always a bit around with regards to mobile and desktop search results. Sometimes it’s also just because it’s a different device or a different connection to the Internet so we use different settings essentially for personalization.”
The difference in Rankings is Due to Personalization
According to John Mueller, mobile indexing is simply indexing, and not part of the ranking algorithm as it relates to mobile search. The mobile and desktop search rankings occasionally differ due to personalization, he revealed. In his explanation, Mueller stated that a mobile device user may have different needs than a desktop user.