Mobile Search: 15 SEO Experts Give Their Advice [Research]

Can Your FInd Me Now? How To Optimize for Mobile Search

Mobile search is an integral part of any mobile marketing strategy given the steady growth of smartphones and tablets. Use mobile search to ensure that prospects and customers can find you when they actively look for you on-the-go.  (Here’s some more mobile shopping data you need now!]

According to Performics, mobile searches account for about one out eight Google paid searches and tablets account for about two out of every five mobile searches. 

Here’s advice from fifteen SEO experts on how to optimize you mobile search strategy. Your top priority for mobile should be to have a mobile optimized version of your website.

  1. This optimized version of your site is something that search engines are looking for when determining the ranking of your site in mobile search. Don’t create a separate mobile version of your website. Having two versions of your website can get messy and be costly in administrative time. Instead have a mobile CSS template for your website that is loaded when someone using a mobile browser visits your website. Not only will this mobile design help your SEO, but it will help you actually convert the traffic that your receive from search engines into leads and customers. Kipp Bodnar, Inbound Marketing Strategist at HubSpot (@KippBodner) and Jeffrey L. Cohen, Social Strategist at Salesforce Radian6 (@JeffreyLCohen) Co-authors of The B2B Social Media Book: Become a Marketing Superstar by Generating Leads with Blogging, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Email, and More.
  2. I have seen visits show up as direct traffic in Google Analytics when it is actually coming from an app via the iPad device. Make sure to use a URL builder so you can track traffic coming from apps.  Lisa Buyer – The Buyer Group (@LisaBuyer).
  3. Marketers must be optimized for mobile search for the terms prospects and customers use when they’re in stores researching and buying products, regardless of whether or not you’ve got a retail presence. Potential customers comparison shop when they’re ready to purchase. If you’re not there, you may loose the sale. Go one step further and ensure that prospects can find your physical location and call you. Depending on your product, this may also translate to having a streamlined mobile website or a mobile app. Heidi Cohen – Riverside Marketing Strategies (@HeidiCohen).
  4. Look at your site on various tablets, smart phones and other mobile devices. Know that your site looks and potentially acts differently on each device. If you use HTML5 or other newer features (which is a good idea, by the way!), you can’t necessarily account for all browsers, desktop or mobile. So look at your analytics to determine which browsers and devices are most heavily used and which ones are the least. That way your developers aren’t spending too much of their time writing conditional CSS for every browser under the sun. Thom Craver - Rochester Institue of Technology (@ThomCraver)
  5. The hyper-local is still a wide-open area for marketers with SEO for mobile. For instance, in New York City, there is still so much you can do with a neighborhood like Hells Kitchen. Make sure you use as many geographic indicators in your content as possible. Ric Dragon – Dragon Search and author of Social Marketology (@RicDragon).
  6. Render your mobile site on the exact same URLs as your desktop site.  This causes the mobile site to full inherit the SEO ranking factors (links and social media goodness) of your desktop site.  This does NOT happen when you build your mobile site at m.yourdomain.com.  The second major tip for mobile is to reduce the load time for the page.  Don’t just use CSS to render your full desktop page differently.  Instead, show a logical subset of the content on the mobile version.  Lastly, measure and reduce the bounce rate for your mobile pages.  Bounce rate is a solid measurement of how good a mobile experience you are offering. Eric Enge – Stone Temple Consulting Corporation  and co-author of The Art of SEO with Stephan Spencer, Jessie Stricchiola and Rand Fishkin (@StoneTemple).
  7. Understand that mobile users are often searching for different things than desktop users.  Take a close look at your analytics to see which pages mobile users are going to most to get a sense of possible keyword/search intent and where they are bouncing most as that indicates needs not met – either from a content and/or mobile presentation perspective. Marc Engelsman – Digital Brand Expressions (@marc_engelsman).
  8. When you are optimizing content for mobile, don’t forget that YouTube is the second largest search engine.  YouTube mobile gets over 600 million views a day, and traffic from mobile devices tripled in 2011.  And YouTube Mobile (m.youtube.com) is the #2 video-viewing website in the world, second only to YouTube.com. Greg Jarboe – SEO-PR and author of YouTube Marketing An Hour A Day (@gregjarboe).
  9. Keep your content simple and consistent with desktop/laptop sites and blogs. Also make sure they consistently map to and utilize your targeted keywords. Ron Jones – Symetri Internet Marketing and author of Keyword Intelligence (@Ron_Jones).
  10. Ask your web team about “responsive design” – if you can’t overhaul your existing site to make it responsive to any size or type of browser, we recommend building a mobile version of your site or using CSS to feed mobile content to users.  Keep your mobile page data succinct, lean and fast.  Ensure local information is readily and easily available. Chris Keating, VP, SEO and Conversion Optimization – Performics.
  11. Get competitive. Users don’t search for long terms on mobile devices. Typing is harder. You won’t have as much success with long-tail terms so consider shorter keywords and phrases you can own.   Rebecca Lieb – Altimeter Group and author of The Truth About Search Engine Optimization  and Content Marketing (@lieblink).
  12. Segment your analytics reports to determine what type of information your mobile visitors are seeking, then tailor your content strategy to address their specific needs and interests. Paul Roetzer – CEO, PR 20/20 and author of The Marketing Agency Insider (@paulroetzer).
    1. Make sure everywhere your phone number is listed it has dashes, not periods, separating the numbers. Most mobile devices won’t recognize it as a phone number without the dashes. When someone is searching on a mobile device they are usually looking to take action, so make sure they can call you directly from your listing.
    2. Make your websites “responsive.” This is a coding issue that will make sure your website automatically adjusts to fit the browser or device it is being viewed on so every visitor can see and interact with your website.

    Nick Stamoulis – President, Brick Marketing  (@NickStamoulis).

  13. In an ideal digital world, it would be great if I could create one master website and use one style sheet for a mobile phone, one style sheet for tablets, and another for a laptop/desktop computer.Realistically, I find that creating unique design templates for each device is far more effective. Reason? If you truly research and understand your users’ different mobile, tablet, and laptop computer needs, you will see how different they are.What are the main tasks that your target audience needs (and wants) to perform on a cell phone? There is plenty of content that you will have to eliminate to accommodate the small cell-phone screen.

    What are the main tasks that your target audience needs and wants to perform on a tablet? Are you accommodating both fingers and cursors? You will need to allocate more screen real estate for fingers…users will navigate your website on a tablet with fingers.

    Notice that I’m not jumping into a keyword research tool or mentioning some SEO software. The most important thing you can do for mobile/tablet SEO is to understand the searcher goals and environments of your target audience and accommodate them in your mobile/tablet design. A #1 position in Google does not magically make a website usable or desirable.  Shari Thurow – Founder and SEO Director, Omni Marketing Interactive and author of When Search Meets Web Usability (@sharithurow).

When it comes to optimizing for mobile search, bear in mind that these consumers are on-the-go with limited time. Make sure you’re visible to them where and when they’re looking for you.

What recommendations do you have for optimizing your mobile including tablets campaigns?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen


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Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/yourdon/3567909813/

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  • http://www.dmgerbino.com dmgerbino

    Awesome post Heidi. I still have vendors telling me that a separate mobile and tablet site need to be built with different domain variations. When I ask about CSS3 and HTML5 they get confused. Next time I’m told to create a septate site by a vendor, I’m sending them here.

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/annelizhannan Anneliz Hannan

    Great post and super group of  talent.  It reminds me of the acronym for dealing with journalists DIFT-do it for them.  Thanks