7 Factors that Affect Mobile Search Rankings

Garrett Astler - November 4, 2015

Your site may be mobile-friendly, but how well does it rank in mobile search compared to desktop? Google data tells us more searches take place on mobile than on desktop in 10 countries, including the US and Japan. With so many searches occurring on mobile, it’s important to be aware of the differences between the mobile and desktop search landscape.

A recent study examining top-ranking pages in mobile search has identified important common factors among them. If you’re looking to boost your mobile rankings, this is what you should consider:

Site Speed

The best ranking mobile pages take about 1.10 seconds to load on average. See how fast your mobile pages load, check out the Google Page Speed Tool.


Don’t integrate your mobile pages with Flash. Only 5% of the top performing sites have Flash elements in their landing pages.


Fewer redirected pages are being served in top mobile organic positions. Avoid redirecting your mobile users wherever possible.

Font Size

The average font size above the fold – the visible area without scrolling – on the best ranking mobile pages is significantly larger compared to desktop pages. Top mobile sites average greater than 15pt font, compared to desktop with less than 14pt.

Bulleted Lists

Over 70% of the top performing mobile sites have unordered lists. However, compared to desktop sites they tend to be shorter. For mobile, limit the number of items to the essentials.

Number of Images

The average desktop page contains 9 images. Highly ranked mobile pages contain less than 4 images on average. Be sure your images are optimized for mobile displays, as this will also reduce load times.

Word Count

Text has become longer and more comprehensive among the top ranking mobile pages, averaging about 860 words. But it still remains significantly less than the average desktop page, averaging about 1,300 words. Reducing content length for mobile devices is advised.

With this in mind, it follows that marketers should be pursuing a separate approach to help their mobile pages rank as high as possible. A one-size-fits-all strategy for desktop and mobile is no longer adequate.

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