How to do Mobile Keyword Research in 2013

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How to do Mobile Keyword Research in 2013

The way in which we use mobile devices, our iPod, smartphone, tablet, or games console, is changing all of the time. All of these are playing an increasingly influential part in our lives. As this happens, they are then influencing marketing companies and businesses all around the world.

Mobile Search

One in three people already use their mobile device to search for a product or service. While this is a general trend, the most common mobile searches are for local businesses and services. The number of mobile searches is set to grow by 50% this year, in comparison to a mere 12% growth for desktop search.

By 2015, mobile searches for local services, businesses, and locations will surpass desktop, and continue to grow as desktop searches plateau and then eventually become less popular as we head toward the end of the decade.

With the numbers shifting so dramatically in favor of mobile search, it is obvious businesses not embracing it are going to struggle to continue attracting customers, both locally and in general, in the coming years.

Objective Settings

Before diving into your mobile keyword research, take the time to set yourself some objectives for your business. What might these be?

· Increase traffic from mobile browsers

· Increase online conversions from mobile

· Drive offline conversions from mobile search

These might differ based on your vertical industry and target market, but will give you an idea of some objectives you can set for yourself.

Keyword Research for Mobile

In bygone years, the phrase ‘keyword research for mobile’ was enough to send a shiver down the spine of even the most hardened digital marketer. This was partly down to a lack of mobile specific sites in previous years; marketers and businesses wanted to conduct mobile research, but knew that by doing so they ran the risk of cannibalizing their desktop SEO.

Keyword research for mobile is much easier in 2013, as many businesses either have developed a mobile site, or are using a responsive web design optimized for mobile anyway. Local businesses will feel the biggest benefit of mobile keyword research and implementation; however, it is something that everyone should be doing.

We explored three great tools for conducting accurate mobile keyword research, before looking at how to implement and make the most of your findings.

Google Webmaster Tools

You might already be using this platform. If you are, then it will help you with this, especially if you have been using Webmaster Tools for some time.

Go down the left toolbar and find the ‘search queries’ function, and open it up. Set the search parameters to ‘mobile’ and it will instantly bring up a report covering all of the most popular search terms that people are using to find your business. You can also see where you currently rank for these keywords and phrases, as well as your click through rate for mobile search.

Google Keyword Tool

Google’s specific keyword tool goes further that merely using the ‘search queries’ function from Webmaster Tools. While the previous example aggregates all mobile searches, the keyword tool can break down searches from tablet devices and smartphones on an individual basis. This can be useful for starting to get an idea of how many mobile searches you are getting from people who are actually on the move, rather than just searching on a mobile device at home.

Look at your performance of search terms across a desktop/mobile comparison for a clearer impression of whether this is happening.

Even if you are unable to spot any trends immediately, people’s search behavior will change even if they are searching on a mobile at home. Watch out for the following:

· ‘Long tail’ keywords and queries are usually a sign of desktop searches

· One word or specific searches are more common on mobile devices

Bing Ads Intelligence

It is perhaps better to come back to this tool having taken action based on your findings from Google’s Webmaster Tools and Keyword Tool. That is because Bing Ads Intelligence does not give the features and easy to interpret and use data of the previous options. However, it can be valuable when you start to dig deeper into your marketing strategy.

We love this tool for two reasons:

· You get an idea of overall search volume; how many searches are conducted against the number of times your site shows up?

· The tool gives information related to searches by demographic; perfect for businesses that are ranking well but finding the wrong audience.

One final thing worth looking out for is whether you have good rankings for keywords in Bing but not Google, as well as the other way round; do you have an SEO opportunity?

Your List of Keywords

At this stage, it is likely you will find yourself with a relatively long list of keywords that you can potentially use to optimize for mobile search. As with the initial research, we used three tools to refine the results. Two of them we have already used, and if you are comfortable with using just these, you can always complete your mobile keyword research in one round.

Webmaster Tools Round Two

Go back into the ‘search queries’ function, and focus in on the search terms for your site, and how they compare across mobile, desktop, and which ones are shared between both. Target keywords based on your objectives from earlier.

If you are looking to boost traffic from mobile only, target the mobile keywords. For a more diverse mix, target words popular on both mobile and desktop. If you have already undertaken some SEO work on your site, you will be at an advantage here as you might already be ranking well for certain terms even before mobile optimization.

Google Keyword Tool Revisited

Basically, an extension of what you have just looked at, Google’s Keywords Tool enables you to organize your keywords by percentage of mobile searches against total searches. Simply pick out the highest percentage mobile search terms – over 40% of the total is a good benchmark to set – and start choosing your targets.

Tag Clouds

Tag clouds are an excellent tool for anyone conducting keyword research that cannot get to grips with what can feel like the deluge of data from Google, Bing, or other research tools.

All you have to do is find a tag cloud platform, such as TagCrowd, and away you go. This will give you a clear visualization of how your keywords compare in terms of use across mobile and desktop.


Although you should treat mobile optimization as a completely new range of SEO activities, in reality if you have been following good SEO practices for some time you will already be in a great place to move forward.

Keyword optimization for mobile is more important than ever before; make 2013 the year you make a difference for your website or business, and position yourself for mobile success for years to come.