Mobile Website Optimization: The growing impact of mobile search


[Editor’s Update on February 29, 2024: Mobile marketing has shifted heavily towards apps. And if that is your focus, we have data that shows how likely millennials, baby boomers, and Gen Xers are to delete your app. But the classic article below is a nice reminder that apps aren’t the only way your audience and customers can interact with your brand.]

This week marks the opening of MarketingSherpa’s Eighth Annual Search Engine Marketing Benchmark Survey (Editor’s Note: MarketingSherpa is the sister company of MarektingExperiments). In putting this together, I found myself rereading last year’s report. Once again, I was particularly struck by marketers’ perceptions of mobile search. We surveyed more than 2,000 marketers regarding the impact of mobile search on their businesses. Interestingly, more than half stated that mobile search has no impact.

Chart: The current impact of mobile search

Q. How do you think mobile search is currently impacting your business?

Click to enlarge

However, when asked to forecast the expected impact of mobile search on their organizations in one to five years, these numbers changed drastically. Nearly one quarter of respondents stated that mobile search will greatly impact their businesses, and an additional 47 percent stated that it will have some impact. Only 29 percent of marketers surveyed concluded that mobile search would still have no impact on their businesses.

Chart: The expected future impact of mobile search

Q. How do you think mobile search will impact your business in the next 1 – 5 years?

Click to enlarge

Given this outlook, and the fact that mobile devices already account for more than ten percent of searches today, how can search marketers prepare for the current and future impact of mobile search? How can they optimize their sites and pages to take advantage of this source of search traffic?

LPO in the palm of your hand

Clearly, mobile search has its own set of technical requirements. Businesses that are most successful with mobile search tend to keep the mobile user in mind with respect to keywords and ad copy, but also with page layouts and the overall site design itself. In other words, they do not simply replicate the desktop user experience.

If you are just getting into mobile search, it is recommended that you:

  • Develop a mobile version of your website
  • Create a mobile site map
  • Upload mobile style sheets
  • And test, test, test the search experience across as many devices as possible.

Activities such as these, although time and resource intensive, will pay off in a positive experience for your users…and, therefore, mean more conversions for you.

Perhaps LPO should stand for local page optimization

But, there is also another angle to consider. Think about the source of mobile searches and how these often are local in nature. Mobile searchers tend to access the Web on-the-go, likely looking for information upon which they can act quickly. Therefore, in addition to claiming and optimizing a local business listing on all search engines, it is equally important to optimize for local terms as part of your overall organic search strategy, such as:

  • Local content in pages, blog posts, and page titles
  • Local keywords in internal links
  • Local keywords in external anchor text
  • Local business address on web pages
  • Local customer reviews posted prominently
  • Yelp and/or Google Hotpot presence publicized

And now a word from our customers

A couple of comments on the last two items. Granted, these have nothing to do with actual local terms, per se.  I mention them, however, because reviews boost visibility and rankings in local search results. (Plus, they’re just good for business. As in the good ones are a pat on the back, and the bad ones keep you on your toes!) But, the reviews must be legitimate and freely given. You want to ask customers for reviews where appropriate. For example, if a customer compliments your service or offers positive verbal feedback, you can ask them if they would be willing to be quoted online. You can take that quote and put it on your website.

When it comes to specifically soliciting reviews, steer clear. Not only can those reviews get filtered out, but self-selected reviews just don’t fly with readers.  (Yelp actually speaks to this on their official blog.)  At most, proactively publicize your engagement on these platforms (e.g. Put a “Find us on Yelp” image on your website or front counter, hang a provided-by-Google “Recommended on Google” sticker in your window)

Marketers expect mobile search to have a big impact on their organizations in the near future. Whether that impact is positive or negative on your bottom line is up to you.

This week marks the opening of MarketingSherpa’s Eighth Annual Search Engine Marketing Benchmark Survey. If you’re involved in search marketing, please take the next 5 to 15 minutes to provide data and insights.

As a thank you for your time, we are offering a complimentary report titled “Research on Integrating Social Media with SEO.”  This report provides data aggregated from more than 2,000 marketers on their goals for search and social integration and the platforms used for achieving them.

Please help us spread the word by tweeting or posting the following invitation too: Search marketers share your insights. Take the Search Engine Marketing Benchmark Survey at

Related Resources

Mobile Marketing 101: Should you make the leap to a custom mobile site?

Mobile Marketing 101, Part 2: Ease of use and quality of content are key

Testing Mobile Pages – Simpler Than Thought

Mobile Website Advice from Taco Bell: 5 considerations to reach more mobile devices – MarketingSherpa Members’ Library

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  1. Matt Rhys-Davies says

    Hi Kaci,

    Thank you for the very thorough article.

    On this line here – “How will that affect landing pages that have been optimized for computer users?” – if a company take their mobile strategy seriously (as they all should) they should detect the user-agent and redirect accordingly. Obviously less, space for a designer to play with, but making browser / device specific for usability should be considered a responsibility and not an optional requirement.

    Having written that out, I see you addressed it further down in the article. I should really read to the end before commenting!


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