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Guide to Mobile Keyword Research 2017

While we don’t always know what the future of SEO will be, we do know that a lot of it will be on mobile. Google’s Mobile First Index is arriving at the end of the year. Plus, mobile devices are used for over half of all time spent on digital media.

Now, more than ever before, your site needs to be optimized for mobile. One huge aspect of mobile optimization is finding and using the right keywords. Mobile keywords are different than desktop keywords. Here’s what you need to know:

Mobile and Desktop Keywords: A Quick Comparison

The device a person uses will affect how they search. Mobile keywords are different than desktop keywords – even for the exact same product or service.

There are three main areas of difference:

  • Typos (a lot or a little)
  • Voice search versus typed search
  • Local search versus a search for information

Let’s take a look at how mobile keywords are affected by each.

Mobile screens are more prone to typos than a standard keyboard. Using your thumbs and fingers to type on a small screen isn’t always the most accurate. Mobile keywords will include more misspellings. You’re also likely to find more frequent use of abbreviations.

Desktop users very rarely use voice features. Typing is almost always faster and easier. Mobile is a different story. Most voice searches are conducted on a mobile device. After all, the mobile user is likely walking, driving or otherwise, well, mobile.

When a person wants to learn about a subject in-depth, they’re more likely to use a desktop computer. On the other hand, mobile users tend to focus on local queries. They want to quickly know directions, contact info or other data about their relatively immediate surroundings.

What Mobile Intent Tells Us

You might have found this article using search terms such as “keyword research” and “mobile keywords.” Mobile keyword research is a fairly in-depth term. Many people prefer to read a longer article like this one on the large screen of a desktop.

Mobile users are looking for shorter, quicker results. They want to know where they can find a product or store. They want to quickly scan the latest headlines or viral trends. They’re almost never looking for a long article.

Here’s an interesting stat from Google and Nielsen: Over three-quarters of all mobile searches happen in an area where the searcher has access to a desktop computer. This shows people aren’t using their mobile devices because a PC isn’t around. Instead, they search on mobile because certain subjects are more naturally associated with a mobile device.

Unique Traits of Mobile Keywords

Mobile keywords have three unique components. Let’s take a look:

Mobile Keywords are Short

Entering long keywords using your thumbs is a hassle. People want to enter the minimum amount of words needed. When marketing for mobile, focus on the three most important keywords for your industry.

Mobile Keywords Emphasize Location

According to Google, almost 94% of smartphone users search for info on locations. You’ll want to optimize your site for local search. This includes claiming your Google My Business page, using Schema markup and – of course – using the right keywords.

Two important keywords are “nearby” and “near me.” Even though mobile search results will often know the user’s location, people still type those phrases pretty often.

The best way to rank for location is to sign up for Google My Business. This will help your rank within your industry.

Mobile Keywords are Voice Friendly

Voice search has always been pretty popular in mobile. But Voice search is also getting a big boost thanks to intelligent assistants like Cortana and Siri. When optimizing for mobile, you want to consider keywords people are likely to say out loud.

What makes a keyword a good fit for a voice search? First, length. A voice search is usually just a few words.

Next, voice searches are usually questions. People use a more natural style when they talk compared to when they type. “ATM machine in [city]” is an example of search phrasing commonly found on desktop. Phrases like “Where is the closest ATM machine?” are found on voice.

You can use the type of question to determine user intent. For instance, if someone searches for “dog grooming” they might want to learn techniques, buy supplies or find a groomer. But if someone asks “Where can I find a dog groomer?” you can optimize your dog grooming site to reach them.

Google Goggles

Voice search isn’t the only search tool which doesn’t need text. Google Goggles is another popular way to search using a mobile device.

Google Goggles is an app which recognizes images. The app “looks” at a picture and shows you relevant data.

Physical locations are popular. For instance, if you snap a pic of the Statue of Liberty, Google Goggles will show you a variety of geographic and cultural data about the landmark.

You can also use the app to gather data about a company logo. Snap a pic of a can of Pepsi and you’ll get search results similar to if you entered the word “Pepsi” as a search term.

How do you rank for this type of search? The best way is to make sure your logo is associated with your brand name. First, place your logo in prominent places on your website.

Also, use alt tags for every image on your site. Google search crawlers can’t see your image in the traditional sense. Instead, they read the alt text in order to understand each image.

Do you need to spend a ton of time optimizing for Google Goggles? Not really. It’s still a relatively new and niche search tool. But don’t ignore it completely, either. Traditional text-based desktop searches are quickly losing ground to non-traditional search tools. You want to stay ahead of this trend instead of trying to catch-up later.


Mobile users are on-the-go. They’re searching for quick information. You’ll need to identify and use the right mobile keywords in order to reach them.

Mobile searches are often based on location. Potential customers are looking for a physical location nearby. That’s great news for internet marketers. Now when you optimize your site for mobile, you’re also optimizing it for local search.

Businesses which aren’t adapting to the new types of search will fall behind. Make 2017 the year you commit to optimizing your brand for mobile search.

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