It’s no secret that mobile web usage is exploding. Everywhere you look moms, dads, teens, business people, and even fellow drivers on the road are face-first in their smartphones and tablets. So if you fall into the category of marketers that have been holding off on mobile until it goes more mainstream, wait no longer. With almost 60% of all cell phone-toting Americans using smartphones and 34% of them using tablets, 2012 truly is the year of mobile, and ignoring your brand’s mobile experience can mean you’re leaving big money on the table.
Making your website’s content accessible on various screen sizes and operating systems isn’t the only reason to optimize for mobile devices. You also want to make sure that your brand, services, and products are visible when potential customers seek them out while on the go. And seek them out, they will. Recent studies show that 79% of smartphone and tablet owners are using their devices for shopping-related activities, including creating shopping lists, redeeming coupons, researching products, making payments, and completing online transactions. That’s where mobile SEO comes into play to ensure your content is ranking and visible to the people who want it, when and where they need it most.
There are a lot of similarities between regular SEO and mobile SEO, however one of the main differences is in page-level keyword targeting. Because the needs, motivations, and urgency of a searcher on-the-go can be very different from those of a desktop searcher, the keywords that they use can vary widely as well. Emerging mobile search technologies like Google Now, Google Goggles, and Siri also present brand new input methods that affect how mobile users search and the keywords that are used.
To discover the best keywords to optimize your mobile website for, start by firing up Google’s trusty Adwords Keyword Tool. Enter in the keywords that describe how potential customers might be searching for your business, products, or services. Set the match type to “Exact”, then click the “Advanced Options and Filters” tab, where you can specify that you only want search volume data from mobile devices. Depending on your type of business, the results you get will likely be much different than the results that show desktop and laptop searches. Be sure to sort the list by “Local Monthly Searches” to get a clear view of the keywords that are searched most from mobile devices over the last 12 months to the keywords that are searched least.
Another really big mobile SEO opportunity is App Store Optimization, which is focused on getting your mobile app ranking highly in App Store search engines. The ranking factors for mobile SEO and ASO are completely different, but one commonality is the focus on keywords. Your mobile web keyword research done using Google’s Keyword Tool above will be insightful, however one resource you don’t want to overlook is Chomp Charts, monthly app statistics from third-party mobile app search engine, Chomp. Chomp Charts displays data such as top search queries, search trends, seasonal search activity, and much more. Unfortunately, their last update was from January 2012, and it remains to be seen if Chomp Charts will return after their acquisition by Apple at the end of February of this year.
No matter what your business is trying to do online, discovering the keywords your customers are using is one of the first things you should do to ensure you’re showing up when they search for them. And it doesn’t stop there; revisiting your keyword research on a regular basis throughout the year will help you identify terms that are trending up that you should focus on, as well as terms that are trending down that should be replaced. By investing in solid on-page optimization with informed keyword targeting, you set the foundation for mobile sites and apps that can rank highly for years to come.