A Brief Look at a Changing Landscape of Mobile Searches and SEO



Now that mobile searches have surpassed desktop ones, digital professionals and SEO specialists need to re-evaluate their online strategy and analysis. What changed? Where are we heading? How does mobile search differ than traditional, desktop search?


Access exclusive SMW+ content by marketers whose careers you can emulate with a free 30-day trial!

It’s no shock that mobile searches are now surpassing desktop searches. This was officially announced by Google in early May of this year, but what many professionals and SEO specialists now question is whether or not they should change their keyword and SEO strategies to adapt to how mobile users search online. Is there a difference? If so, what does and will this mean in the future?

From Unofficial Buzz to an Official Google Announcement

For the past five years, everyone expected the time would come when mobile searches outnumbered desktop searches, and that time is now. According to Google’s official blog, mobile searches now outnumber desktop searches in ten countries including, of course, the United States and tech-savvy Japan.

Search engine optimization (SEO) should focus on mobile users primarily, and desktop searches after that. But, what does this mean in terms of how keywords are employed? Will we need to re-think how we use them? Or, how to analyze them?

Mobile Users Shorten Search Terms

One of the things you will need to be conscious of when optimizing keywords for mobile searches is that users are not likely to type in long phrases and keywords. They abbreviate everything to make it easier and quicker to type on that little mobile keyboard. Even with voice recognition searches, mobile users will search using less than two or three words whenever possible.

This means it might be more challenging to target niche areas within an industry. The fewer keywords people use to search a specific thing, the more competition exists aiming to control those specific search queries.

What About Optimizing Images for Mobile Searches?

Here is one of the aspects of SEO that is projected to drastically change over the next few years. In the past, we optimized our images for better results in the SERPs, but this has little to no effect on mobile searches. In fact, a site that is too image heavy is likely to get penalized by Google because images are not quick to load, and generally are not easy to view on small devices. When optimizing for mobile searches, it is better to stick to keyword optimization, but with a new thrust on how to utilize them effectively for mobile-friendly abbreviated searches.

Getting Into the Mind of a Mobile Searcher

When it comes to statistical analysis of high ranking, competitive keywords for mobile searches, it might be work taking a few moments to consider where and when most mobile searches take place. It’s suggested to take “micro-moments” into account when optimizing for mobile searches. These are instances when a mobile user is in a doctor’s office waiting for his or her appointment, or in a line behind several other customers, or simply bored and eager to pass the time.

When searching in these situations, individuals are using very short terms that pop up in their heads randomly. This is the audience you should learn to target. With more traditional SEO techniques you may never rank highly enough to gain attention in the SERPs. Understand the mind of an individual looking to save time, or find answers with the least amount of effort possible.

Mobile SEO – Less Is More

When you optimize keywords for mobile searches, less is so much more. A mobile user will not type or speak long phrases, and aren’t afraid to make spelling mistakes in the process. When writing copy for mobile SEO, the key is to keep everything short and sweet. You no longer need 800 to 1,000 word articles to rank highly because few mobile users will read anything more than a few words, and Google knows this.

You want to rank on the first page of the mobile SERPs, and you need to re-adjust your thinking if you want to gain a high position. Mobile SEO is still coming into its own, and there are a lot of unanswered questions. However, if you remember that mobile users abbreviate everything, sometimes even into acronyms, your task should be that much easier.

One last bit of advice. Take the time to follow Google as it updates its mobile algorithms. They are the experts on how users search, and if they make changes, you know that’s what people are looking for. Mobile SEO is geared towards the user experience, and it is in your best interest to know what mobile users want and need. The ground rules are changing so keep up with the times.

Newsletter Subscription

Get the latest insights, trends and best practices from today's leading industry voices.

Learn More

Write for Us

Interested in sharing your ideas and insights with the world? Become a SMW News contributor and reach 300k readers each month.

Apply Here