Blog | Organic Search

Don’t Forget about Desktop: SEO in the Mobile First World

September 20, 2017
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Desktop SEO in a Mobile World - BFOIf you’re reading this post, there’s a good chance you’ve already heard how mobile is the undisputed #1 device to focus on for your SEO campaigns. While I’m not here to tell you mobile doesn’t matter, it’s critically important to still ensure you have an optimized desktop experience, especially if you’re in the B2B space.

Why Sites Are Too Obsessed with Mobile SEO in 2017:

Google announced in November 2016 that it’s beginning to fundamentally change the way it builds its index. The world’s most popular search engine is now indexing the mobile version of a site first instead of the desktop version. Here’s a link to the Google Webmaster Center Blog post about this important shift in Google’s approach to crawling the web.

Couple this seismic shift with the creation of the Google-backed Accelerated Mobile Pages project (better known as AMP) and you can understand why most industry experts are talking almost exclusively about mobile. But despite these two recent initiatives by Google in organic search, I’m going to tell you why I still believe desktop is the device to beat right now (especially in the B2B space).

Total Organic Search Visits to B2B Sites: Desktop vs. Mobile:

Although it’s widely accepted that mobile makes up more than 50 percent of all searches queries performed on Google, this can still vary dramatically depending on the target audience of your website.

The chart below is the organic search total for desktop vs. mobile from four random B2B sites that we provide SEO services for here at BFO.

*** This data comes from Google Analytics from Jan. 1st, 2017 to Sept. 7th, 2017.

Organic Search by Device

As you can see from the chart above, desktop traffic is on average 80 percent of the total organic search traffic thus far in 2017 for these B2B sites. This heavy preference toward desktop illustrates that when people are using search engines to find information for work, they are still much more likely to use a traditional desktop device rather than using their mobile phones.

The SEO significance of desktop traffic to organic search conversions is even more drastic, as approximately 90.2 percent of conversions to these B2B sites are from desktop devices. Here’s a breakdown of the conversion data by site thus far this year.

Organic Search 2

Comparing Desktop SEO Dominance in B2B to Various B2C Sites:

Since we have established more people are using Google on mobile devices than the traditional desktop experience in the B2B space, let’s compare our data from these four B2B sites to four sites in the B2C space.

For this comparison, we’ve included the same metrics for two e-commerce sites from different verticals, one publishing site, and one restaurant site.

Organic Traffic

And this next chart shows the conversions for the four B2C sites:

Organic Conversion 4

So this is interesting. Despite a much higher average of mobile traffic than desktop traffic across these B2C sites (approx. 50/50 average between mobile & desktop), the total amount of conversions to these sites is still heavily skewed toward desktop, accounting for 64.6 percent of conversions so far in 2017. Of added significance is the fact that more than 50 percent of visits from both ecommerce sites used in this sample are still desktop traffic (56.9% and 54.5%). The ecommerce preference toward desktop is even more apparent when looking at conversions, as desktop devices make up 86% and 77% of organic search conversions, respectively. Therefore, it’s reasonable to conclude that mobile is driving more and more traffic, but still lagging behind desktop when it comes to driving conversions/revenue.

So Where Do People Actually Use Mobile More Often?

Where mobile is dominant, though, is when it comes to the publishing site. The percentage of mobile traffic to this site is 53.9%, while conversions are 59.7% mobile. This is further reinforced by other B2C publishing sites we provide SEO services for here at BFO, with one site having 65% of its organic search traffic from mobile and 60.4% of organic search conversions happening on mobile devices.

Key SEO Takeaways in Mobile vs. Desktop Traffic:

  • The intent of your website is a huge factor in determining what device is most important for SEO.
  • Despite recent/upcoming SEO changes to prioritize mobile content in SEO, desktop is still critically important for both traffic and conversions.
  • Publishing websites tend to favor mobile traffic and conversions the most, while B2B websites tend to dramatically favor desktop devices.

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