Chapter 3

Mobile SEO Tips

There isn't that big of a difference between search engine optimization for desktop and for mobile, but there are certain factors to consider, especially if you opt for dynamic serving or separate URLs. And even though they mean extra work for SEOs and webmasters, you should rather see them as opportunities for an extended and better targeted mobile marketing plan.

Below you find some of the things that you should integrate into an adapted SEO strategy in order to make sure that your mobile site gets the visibility and traffic it deserves.

Separate mobile keyword research makes content more targeted

The best part about using dynamic serving or separate URL sites and the fact that you can create separate content for them is that you can also target different keywords - keywords that have high search volumes specifically for mobile searches, and which might be more appropriate for the kind of content that users seek on mobile, or for the actions they are looking to complete.

69% of keywords rank differently on mobile than they do on desktop, so if you're implementing dynamically served pages or separate URLs, and will thus create different content for the mobile version of your site, then you could consider performing separate keyword research. This should help your mobile optimization efforts and cause rankings to climb higher than before.

Here are some of the ways you can improve your keyword research and targeting for mobile:

Think like a mobile user

What is my visitor most likely to want to accomplish with a mobile search? What problems do they want to solve, what do they need to find out? And how can I meet those needs? By answering questions like these you should be able to come up with keywords that respond to mobile user behavior and needs, and create content that attracts them to your site. In consequence, you can use the same keyword research tools you've been relying on so far, but apply human logic to determine which keywords would most likely be utilized in mobile queries, such as adding a location.

Determine what you want users to do on your mobile site

It's not just about what users do on your site, but about what you want them to do as well. Just like with desktop keyword research, you need to establish goals, such as getting users to subscribe or to purchase, and choosing the right metrics that allow you to determine the rate of success. Choosing keywords based on how they rank on mobile is not just about trying to rank higher, but about targeting your content better for the mobile user.

Leverage AdWords Keyword Planner better

As you probably know, you can check out the search volume on mobile for the keywords you target. Above the graph that shows average monthly searches for the keywords you introduce, you can select “Mobile trends” instead of “Search volume trends”. By hovering the cursor over the graph bars, you get an average sum of the total searches for that keyword within a given month. Unfortunately, you can only do this for one keyword at a time currently.

AdWords Keyword chart

For more insight, check out this older article that goes in depth on how you can search mobile volume trends in GKP, such as breaking them down by device or location.

Use Google Webmaster Tools to see user queries

You can use Google's tool to see what queries [keywords] visitors use on their mobile phones to access your site. Just log into your GWT account, go to Search Queries and apply the Mobile filter.

Google Webmaster Tools

If you've already updated to the new version of GWT, you find this information under [Search Analytics] menu; select Devices, Filter devices, and choose Mobile.

Google Webmaster Tools

While this may not give you comprehensive insight into what keywords to target for mobile, you can use the list as seeds for further keyword research, and as a guide to what visitors are looking for, and where good mobile ranking might be found for your pages.

Mobile keyword research tools are a more direct approach is one of the best tools when it comes to keyword research in general, but what makes it great right now is that it features an App store version that allows you to tap into what words users type in order to find apps in yes, the App store. As such, you can use it to find the right words to name and describe your app, so that you get found easily and attract attention.

Rethink titles and meta descriptions for better CTR

Now that users can reach you better on mobile, you must think of optimizing their experience for SERPs as well, not just for the content and page layout they find inside the site. Intuitive as it may be, you must consider optimizing your titles and meta descriptions so they fit on a mobile screen.

Depending on the type of mobile site version you chose, you will have two options:

  • Responsive design

    In this case, you need to adapt the titles and meta descriptions of all your existing pages. It may be a hard task to accomplish, and could affect your overall SEO, so consider carefully what you are willing to give up, or how you can please both sides.

  • Separate URLs and dynamic serving

    For both these alternative configurations it should be easier to optimize titles and meta descriptions, since both enable you to create different content for the mobile site version. This means you don't have to change anything on the desktop site, and since you may have considered rewriting or restructuring that content for the mobile version anyway, writing up new titles and metas won't mean going too much out of your way.

Things to do:
  • Titles

    There has been a lot of forum chatter about the maximum length of a title for mobile sites, and the conclusion seems to have been that 45 characters is the best you can do.

  • Meta descriptions

    There isn't much accurate information about the optimal length of a mobile-friendly description tag either, but this article by Bridget Randolph mentions something along 80-90 characters should be ideal.

Add structured data markup to make your content stand out

Google advises webmasters to add structured data markup to their pages in order to make content more visible in search.

While there is no guarantee that this will push your content at the top of the first SERP, if your content is qualitative, well segmented and expanding well on topics, it may stand a chance to feature in answer boxes, a Knowledge Graph card, or simply be more prominent by including breadcrumbs, rich snippets, and so on.

Things to do:
Google structured Data Markup Helper

This is an optional mobile SEO task (it isn't even actual SEO), but if you want to maximize your site's potential, consider it as a future improvement that gives you an advantage over the competition.

Local SEO for mobile search will increase visibility and conversions

A great number of searches conducted on smartphones has to do with completing an action, like finding the address of a brick and mortar business, making dinner reservations at a restaurant, or something along those lines.

Sometimes, users will step into a shop and make price comparisons with online retailers on their mobile phones. This is your opportunity to show up in local search results and draw customers to your business.

Main steps to take for mobile local SEO:

  • Get registered with Google My Business; there are several stages to setting up your local business, but they are best explained in this Google post.
  • For local search, remember it's important to target the appropriate keywords for your location; consider checking their search volumes on Google (KP) for your specific area, in addition to having the "mobile" filter applied.
  • The consistency of your business NAP information (Name, Address, Phone number) remains essential for mobile local search as well. Make sure that you include these details into your mobile content, along with the type of business you run and its location. That way, when someone types the keywords “business” (read: restaurant, hotel, car dealer, etc.) + “location” (read: London, Reykjavik, Toledo, etc.) you will likely show up in searches without having been directly named.
  • The “click-to-call” option is especially important for improving the conversion rate in local SEO because it gives mobile users the opportunity to reduce the number of actions they have to complete in order to get in touch with someone providing the services they're looking for.

In addition, the more thorough local SEO tactics listed in dozens of other guides are worth checking out if you are determined to attract new customers via local search.

Ask Googlebot to reindex your site

The sooner you get Googlebot to crawl your site and have the new changes indexed, the faster you'll secure the mobile-friendly label for your pages and get better odds at ranking above your competitors.

When you're done with the aspects of optimization for your mobile website, don't wait for bots to reach your pages and crawl them. Jennifer Slegg has an excellent article detailing the three methods of asking Google to reindex your pages.