Why you Need a Mobile Site for Mobile Search

Mobile Search Ranking Factor

So I’ve been lingering around with mobile search optimization lately and found out a couple of resources stating that Google will rank websites with mobile versions higher – in mobile search. If this is the case, then we should all be grabbing mobile versions of our sites. You won’t want your competitor to outrank you just because he has a mobile website and you don’t, don’t you?

Let’s go Over the Stats, shall we?

Mobile vs Web

  • Mobile Subscribers 2010Mobile Web is growing 8x faster than pc based web
  • 70% of the world’s population now has a mobile phone
  • In 2010, mobile subscribers surpassed 5 billion
  • 85% of children own a phone while only 73% own books at home
  • Since 2008 mobile data traffic is up 3000% and is expected to increase 40 fold over the next 5 years
  • Smart Phones Each WeekJanuary to march 2010, 314.7 million phones were activated
  • Android is growing at a rate of 886% – 160,000 android phones are being activated everyday
  • There are Twice as many web-enabled mobile devices today as there are internet connected PCs
  • Mobile Phone PopulationMobile Internet is growing faster than desktop internet ever did.
  • 1,000,000 smart phones are activated every week
  • Google reports that mobile search volume is up 130% year-over-year
  • 65% online search market share is eclipsed in mobile…where Google owns 95% of search.
  • Local searchA whopping 53% of Bing mobile queries are targeted on local. Meaning searchers in mobile devices are searching for local stuff like restaurants, tourist spots, the best bars, etc…
  • Ad CTRs on mobile devices were 37% more than desktop
  • Web vs PCConsumers are 51% more likely to purchase from retailers that have mobile-specific websites.
  • By 2014, it’s predicted that mobile Internet usage will overtake desktop Internet usage.
  • One half of all local searches are performed on mobile devices
  • Google Mobile Search MarketReports have shown an increase of 29% of all mobile searches from the first quarter of 2011. The same rise was measured in mobile retail search traffic that saw a whopping increase of 181%; compared to last year’s figures.


So how do you Optimize for Mobile Search?

Mobile SalesKnowing these stats, we can conclude that mobile is going to be the next big thing. It’s not a matter of ‘IF’ anymore but a matter of ‘WHEN’. And if you’re ahead of the game, you’re almost always going to get a bigger piece of the pie. The question now is, how are you going to be able to optimize for mobile search?

There are some suggestions that Google came up with. And being the one who owns 95% of the entire mobile search market (they own android and Apple doesn’t have a search engine), they declare the factors. And this is what matters most to them:

  • Mobile Search VolumeKeep the layout simple
  • Design for thumbs, not mice
  • Prioritize content – this is always going to be the case for Google
  • Use uniquely mobile features
  • Make it easy to convert
  • Make sure your mobile site doesn’t limit access to just mobile devices (because search bots are not mobile devices)
  • Create and submit a mobile sitemap
  • Be sure to optimize your site’s performance to render fast results for users and search engines. Slower load speed can result to a higher bounce rate
  • Make sure your mobile URLs are viewable on a mobile device (Google will not deliver them in results unless they are compatible with published mobile markup standards such as XHTML Basic 1.1, XHTML MP 1.2 and WML 1.3)
  • Register your mobile site on Google Places, which recently unveiled a location-based recommendation engine called Hotpot

Mobile sites are treated in a different category by search engines – they fall under a ‘mobile’ category. Google has a separate index for mobile content – which is much smaller than the normal Google index. And because this mobile index is smaller, it makes it much easier to get a higher ranking in mobile. The mobile web is new and it is different – and you have to enter new grounds to capture your desired rankings in mobile search.

Mobile Site Ranking Factor

I ran an experiment recently and changed my site name to ‘Simple SEO’. If you don’t remember, it used to be ‘SEO in Simple Terms’. I did this because I was already ranking top on the keyphrase ‘SEO in Simple Terms’ while I was nowhere to be found with the keywords ‘Simple SEO’.

Me and my team built a mobile website just this December for SEO Hacker. We designed it for mobile, and optimized it too. A few weeks after, I was ranking 15th place for ‘Simple SEO’ in the regular Google search.

Simple SEO Rank

But what’s even cooler is that when I checked my rankings in Google mobile (which, again, owns around 95% of the entire mobile search market), I was ranking 14th. I used Opera Mobile Emulator to take the screenshot by the way (In case you were wondering).

Simple SEO Mobile

It’s not really a big, difference (just one rank higher – LOL). But at least we can see the effects of this ‘early’ project that Google has promised. Mobile sites WILL rank higher in mobile search – it’s just a matter of WHEN.

What’s the difference between a Mobile and Regular Site?

Some smart phones and tablets do well to capture your website even without a mobile version – but many of them do so quite poorly. Regular websites are made and optimized for computer monitors which averages 1000 pixels in width. Mobile devices, however, average only around 300 pixels. You can just imagine the discrepancy in viewing a regular website from a mobile device with its limitations. You have to scroll quite a lot and zoom in and out to go through the content. If your readers don’t have much patience to endure through your regular website from their mobile phones, they will bounce – and you will lose them.

You can check out how your website would look on a mobile smart phone so that you would know how easy or frustrating it is for your mobile visitors to go and linger in your website.

Web vs Mobile

Tips for Keeps: If you don’t have a Mobile Website, get one NOW!

Outright Disclaimer: SEO Hacker provides Mobile-Search-Optimized, Mobile Website for as Low as $600 – design, links, logo, Mobile SEO, integration with your regular site, and content easily included. You can contact us if you are interested.

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  • another great tip =) will have to include this on my to do lists now

  • Hi Sean – Kick ass article. Shoot me an email so we can chat a bit :)


    • Hey Theresa!
      Thanks for the encouragement! How can I help you?

  • OMG !! A million smartphones activated every week !! Damn man !!

    • Hey Lucy,
      I know right? Lol.

  • sandeep

    nice info

  • McAllen

    Highly energetic article, I enjoyed that bit. Will there be a part 2?

  • tunichinu

    Hi Sean,

    I found this blog really very interesting and informative. I was researching about it while I discovered your blog. A lot of queries about mobile site and seo optimalizace were obstructing my mind. This post really solved my queries. Nice post! I would appreciate if you post such type of blogs frequently.

  • Sean, you are right on. I mobile optimize sites for businesses an am often surprised at their initial response…..I don’t need that. I have to laugh.
    Nice job on educating , I just got back from Mobile , Alabama, helping Google optimize over 400 sites. Marvin

  • Hi Sean, this is an excellent source of info about mobile website and what we have to start to think Mobile. Definitely is a most. Can I suggest you a similar article talking about mobile websites but focused in the technical aspects to consider when programming and designing our mobile site? For example, what kind of header we should use in the mobile site, CSS files, how to avoid duplicated content with the original site, etc etc. Thanks again.

    • I would love to look at an article that talks about those things :) shoot me an email.

  • Christina

    Hi Sean! Huge fan of your blog! I have a question for you since I am quite noob to mobile seo. You said that you optimized your mobile site (seo-hacker). Do you mind sharing these types of optimizations briefly? Thanks and keep up posting useful stuff!

    • Thanks Christina!
      I did optimize it for mobile. I put it down for a while for my Twitter traffic coz they are having a hard time clicking my shortened lists. A downside of a mobile site is that it redirects people who use mobile to your mobile site’s home page even if they clicked on a deep-link. Mobile SEO deals with a lot of things – but the most obvious one is that it deals with design, navigation and user-friendliness for an end-user.

  • sunny hill

    I had my site optimized for mobile viewing recently. The number of web searches done through a mobile device is quite increasing. Hence, marketers should follow the advice given in the above post – optimize your site for mobile searching otherwise you’d be left out.

  • Amir_uk_

    I will be bookmarking your site for future use i know i still have a lot to do with my website at the moment but will get there.

  • The surprising thing is that despite all the stats, businesses are still very slow in adopting the mobile platform. 97% of small businesses do not have a mobile website

  • This is a great article. We just recently created mobile versions of our dental practice website and dental business management site. The statistics you provide and the key points of design were very helpful. I really hope the statistic about 85% of children having a phone but only 73% owning a book is not true somehow!

  • kaz

    Hi Sean,

    I found this blog really very interesting and informative. I was researching about it while I discovered your blog.

  • Phil Singleton

    Are you saying a separate mobile version of the website? Or a single responsive design (that dynamically adjusts per device) also ‘counts’ as a mobile version?