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6 Tips To Get the Most Out of Mobile Search

Written by Jon Arne Sæterås

Product Director

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

A while back, I blogged about mobile search and the impact on mobile commerce. There we covered why it is important to be visible in mobile search results. Now we will cover how: Mobile SEO. (You might find that the examples below are all Google, here is why)

To warm up, let us see how Google them selves defines a mobile device:

  1. Traditional mobile phones: Phones with browsers that cannot render normal desktop webpages. This includes browsers for cHTML (iMode), WML, WAP, and the like.
  2. Smartphones: Phones with browsers that render normal desktop pages, at least to some extent. This category includes a diversity of devices, such Windows Phone 7, Blackberry devices, iPhones, and Android phones, and also tablets and eBook readers.

    We can further break down this category by support for HTML5:

    • Devices with browsers that do not support HTML5
    • Devices with browsers that support HTML5

First, lets look at some of the differences between mobile search an “the other kind of search” (One of the things that IS similar is actually the general rules of common SEO, so I will not cover that in this post).

Different use cases

According to Google, this is a common use case on mobile search:

Further, it goes without saying that mobile users are, well, mobile. This reflects the things they are searching for. Mobile is not the typical tool when googling research for your PhD thesis, to put it that way.

Eric Schmidt illustrates the other differences between mobile- and desktop search well here:

The number of mobile searches for Chrysler, for instance, jumped 102 times during the game, compared with only 48 times for desktop searches. And the number of mobile searches for GoDaddy jumped 315 times, compared with 38 times on desktops.

This shows how powerful mobile SEO is in relation to other advertising. Mobile is where the customers take action.

So given the different use cases, a different user interface is needed.

If we look at the screenshot of Google below, we se that two dimensions are added to the search: 1) verticals 2) location.

IMG 0888

Vertical search meaning business sectors, or categories, such as Restaurants, Coffee, Bars, Shops, ATM’s etc. Combining this with location makes sense when you are looking for bars in your neighborhood. Currently, Google search is actually made for moving searchers from the streets and in to your store! One very good reason to get a mobile optimized web site, and continue reading this post :)

Another use case worth mentioning is searching from Google Maps on your smartphone. That is my favorite when traveling.

IMG 0895

This is another great example of how important location is in mobile search.

Different ranking

Even if you have a top ranked desktop web site and done your SEO homework, this does not mean that you are ranked high for mobile search too. But it helps, though.

As Bryson Meunier demonstrates below, there are differences in ranking (This research is a few years old…).


What I discovered is that while 13.42% of the queries have the same ranking in desktop results that they do in smartphone results, the great majority of the queries do vary slightly. Nearly a quarter of the listings vary by two positions or more, which in the limited real estate of smartphone screens might as well be page ten. And for a small percentage of the listings, the difference in ranking can be as much as ten positions or more

As noted earlier, location and verticals also have more to say on mobile than on desktop when ranking the results. And there is also mobile search results blending in. Google obviously want to present the users with the most relevant content, so a mix of desktop designed sites and sites for mobile devices are sometimes shown. Provided that the mobile site has implemented the “general rules of SEO”, like using the semantics of HTML, friendly URLs etc., of course.

So what can be done to be more visible in mobile search results? Here are a few tricks.

1. Mobile friendly site

This goes without saying… Make sure your site makes sense to your mobile users.

2. Add your business to Google Places

Get listed on Google maps, and appear in search results when someone is near by is looking for your services.

IMG 0892

Adding your self is pretty easy, just go to Google Places to add, or claim your business. Follow the steps required, add some info and you are good to go. Don’t forget; the info you put in, should be carefully edited with SEO and keywords in mind. Further, It would not hurt to get recommendations and reviews on your profile either… Mobile is a social device, so using social networks and interact with your end users is generally important, but might prove more important on mobile.

Another trick to help search engines detect your vital information, such as store location and contact information is to use micro-formats in your HTML markup.

Here is an example:

<div class="vcard">
   <span class="fn org">L'Amourita Pizza</span>
   Located at
     <div class="adr">
        <span class="street-address">123 Main St</span>, <span class="locality">Albuquerque</span>, <span class="region">NM</span>.
     <span class="geo">
        <span class="latitude">
           <span class="value-title" title="37.774929"></span>
        <span class="longitude">
           <span class="value-title" title="-122.419416"></span>
   Phone: <span class="tel">206-555-1234</span>
   <a href="" class="url"></a>

This will help Google and other search engines to put your business on the map. Micro-formats is can also be used for reviews, people, products, events etc.

3. Make sure you site is fast

Rendering speed that is. So if you use heavy images, tons of JavaScript and CSS and generally making the user experience poor by providing a slow site, Google will degrade the site. And speed is actually money:

  • Bing found that a 2 second slowdown changed queries/user by -1.8% and revenue/user by -4.3%.
  • Shopzilla reduced load time from 7 to 2 seconds, this resulted in a 25% increase in page views, a 7-12% increase in revenue, and a 50% reduction in hardware

On mobile it is good reason to believe that speed is even more important than on desktop web due to the “burst like” use cases we see on mobile; short but frequent tasks.

Google is listing a few tools to monitor your site speed on their webmaster central. Also, it worth mentioning the HTML5 features local storage and application cache, which will help to make your site even faster.

4. Don’t forget images and videos

YouTube has more than 200 mill playbacks per day from mobile devices and is growing faster than all internal predictions. According to Google, search for images is also a popular task on mobile devices. Therefore it is important to consider how you name the images, use alt attribute on image tags with a relevant description, use captions and maybe even the title attribute. However, the most important thing is what’s around the image on the page it self.

5. Tell Google about your mobile site

The Google-bot is the crawler that collects all the data for Google. Google has many different bots, but for simplicity, we can say they have one for mobile and one for none-mobile.

And, it is worth noticing that the Google Mobile crawler is only used for traditional mobile phone (feature phones) content. So in the search result, feature phones will get nice little green phones next to the urls on the result page indicating that it is safe for a none-smartphone user to click through:


Smartphones gets content crawled with Googles regular desktop crawler assuming that Smartphones can handle desktop versions of websites OK.

Do not exclude any Google bot from your sites, even if it means more load on your servers. A complete list of Google bots you must allow can be found here.

Moreover, if you have separate a mobile site url, remember to redirect both your users and the Google Mobile bot with a 301 permanent redirect.

Submit sitemaps of your mobile site too. So now you need two sitemaps; one for feature phones, and another for “other devices that should support a site made for desktops”. Make sure to link to the sitemap from your robots.txt file.

On your site made for desktop browsing, remember to include this line of HTML in your <head> section:

<link rel=”alternate” media=”handheld” href=”” title=”Mobile site”/>

And while you are at it, use the HTTP header “Vary” to announce that the contents of this page is depending on what User-Agent is accessing the page.
This will tell the Google Mobile bot that there is a mobile version of the site that should be indexed. The Google Transcoder will also honor this.

If your site is not showing up in the Google index, Google highlights a couple of potential reasons why not.

6. Keywords and search suggestions

IMG 0891

You should continue to do general keyword optimization just like for desktop web sites. On mobile, however, the “as you type suggestions”, both on the Google mobile search site and in apps, provide useful phrases that should also be included in your keywords. The search suggestions are more widely used on mobile because it is more convenient than typing the full phrase.

A few closing words

I briefly mentioned the Google Transcoder earlier. The purpose of the transcoder is basically to make a site made for desktop devices readable on feature phones. In this process, the site structure, layout and design is completely destroyed. I is highly recommended to take measures to avoid that pages are transcoded. The transcoded page will probably not do any good for your end users anyway.

Those of you who have some experience with SEO, are probably thinking about the “cloaking issue” by now. Cloaking means that different content are served from the same url depending on user-agent. Google takes this very seriously, and if cloaking is detected, the site can be removed from the Google Index.

Even if mobile optimizing is similar to cloaking, Google does not consider this cloaking as long as the Google Mobile bot gets the same content as mobile devices. This is explained in this video from Google.

The same goes for the “duplication of content” issue. Even if similar content is served from two different URLs, i.e. and, this will not negatively affect the ranking.

Read more on mobile search:

The next big thing: Mobile Search, Mobile SEO and Commerce

Written by Jon Arne Sæterås

Product Director

Saturday, June 4th, 2011

Discoverability is a hot potato these days. Number of apps in the various appstores are growing, number of mobile web sites is growing too and more and more people are using search engines, like Google Mobile, to find the stuff they are looking for. I think web search performed from mobile devices is not getting all the buzz it deserves. Here is why. (more…)

Some mobile stats to kick off the new mobile year

Written by Jon Arne Sæterås

Product Director

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

The mobile web traffic is increasing very fast! 2009 gave us a 110% increase in Norway. 2010 gave us 150% increase in terms of page views. Unique users increased 73%. For Sweden, number of mobile page views grew by 156% and unique users by 72%.

The above graph shows the increase in unique users in Norway compared to Sweden. (The bump in the Norwegian line is because did some wired stuff, so ignore that. You’ll see the reason in the detailed graph below). The numbers are not including all Norwegian and Swedish sites, but only those listed here and here.

Click below to take a closer look at each country.

Norway:  Sweden:

These numbers are based on what Mobiletech does together with TNS-Gallup and TNS-Sifo with mobile web statistics in Norway and Sweden. The numbers are freely available. The calculation I have made is not 100% correct down to every single page view, but gives a representative view of the market.

Further, Mobiletech does stuff on our own as well so I have compiled some device statistics:

iOS (iPhone, iPod and iPad) was in the last month of 2010 accounting for 74% of all page views in Norway and Sweden together. Android 24% and Symbian 2%. These numbers are extracted from the top 10 devices which are:

iPhone (all versions) now used for 72% of all page views in Norway and Sweden. Nokia E71 is the only Symbian device on this top 10 list. Another observation is that no feature phones are present on the list.

News of the World launches new mobile web portal

Written by Jon Arne Sæterås

Product Director

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

News of the World mobile web site

News International – the company behind famous newspapers such as The Times, The Sun and News of the World, has chosen the Viz Mobile Expansion delivered by Mobiletech and Vizrt as the new platform for mobile web.

The mobile site, that went live last week, is accessed through a paywall – the same paywall as on the full screen website. Once through the paywall, the reader gets access to news articles and images from the paper in a format optimized for all mobile devices.

Developing this advanced mobile service that in many ways is ground-breaking has been really exciting, and it has been fantastic working with the team at News International“, says Mobiletech CSO Michael Buch Sandager.

News of the World is one of the best known tabloids in the world and we are happy to welcome it on the Mobiletech Platform.”

We are Hiring: Are You A Web Expert?

Written by Jon Arne Sæterås

Product Director

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

Want to work with HTML5, Javascript, CSS3, Geolocation and offline cache? Mobiletech is looking for a front end developer for our R&D team in Stockholm. We need someone who can help us improve our web development platform so that we can create more outstanding mobile and tablet sites for our customers.

We are a bunch of nice and competent guys and can offer a very flexible working environment. We believe in short iterations, continuous testing and integration and focus on quality. We have offices in Stockholm, Bergen, Oslo, Copenhagen and Houston and customers spread all over the world. See our website for more info.

We expect you to have work experience with product development and design, excellent Javascript and CSS skills and programming experience with JSP or PHP. You should also be familiar with HTML5 and javascript libraries. We also require you to document and test your code…

You will work mostly in product development but will also help doing customer implementations. Some travelling is expected.

To apply, please contact andreas..

Success Story for The Globe and Mail

Written by Jon Arne Sæterås

Product Director

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

The Globe and Mail announce it’s successful online and mobile web strategy!

At this year’s IFRA in Hamburg (4-6th October),  Angus Frame, the Vice President, Digital Media at The Globe and Mail and Product Director of Mobiletech, Jon Arne Saeteraas, will share the story on how to create and implement working business models for mobile.
The traffic on increased 12 times
after they installed the Vizrt’s Viz Mobile Expansion (Mobiletech and Vizrt software).

When: Tuesday, 5 October, 15.30
Where: “Trends in Mobile”, Media Port in Hall A.1

The bewildering array of new devices, each with their specific capabilities of screen size, format capabilities and user interfaces, makes it bluntly impossible to deploy a one-size-fits-all content approach to mobile publishing. The sensible method is not to build elements that are specific to a device, but instead create a template based environment that contains policy information indicating how content should be displayed on any device – not just on any one specific device. It is a logical architecture which provides both scalability and flexibility.

The key benefits of the solution is:

  • Publish once – present content as several publications: web, mobile, iPad
  • Support for all types of mobile content
  • Advanced functions for increased usability
  • Always up to date device database
  • Use same URL for mobile and desktop site
  • Enhanced support for Google Android and Apple iPhone platforms
  • Flexible template system for optimised presentation
  • Multiple dimension adaptation and segmentation: Device, operator and market

Do you want to know more?
Mobiletech will be at IFRA on booth 1.501, right beside the Media Port, Hall 1.
You can also get a demo of the complete Vizrt Online and Mobile Suite at the Vizrt Booth, 1.410 Hall 1.

Feel free to book meetings in advance:.

Try Mobiletech Frame

Written by Jon Arne Sæterås

Product Director

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

Mobiletech has the pleasure giving you the opportunity to try out our mobile web development framework; Mobiletech Frame.

Simply, go to the demo license ordering page, submit the form and you will get an email with further instructions.

This is an offer to all developers out there who want to explore the possibilities on mobile web. Only requirements to get the demo up and running is a servlet container and your favorite IDE. All features are enabled, including tablet support.

Publishing to mobile devices using Escenic

Written by Jon Arne Sæterås

Product Director

Monday, May 31st, 2010

A short video from the NAB 2010 show in Las Vegas. The video gives an overview of how Escenic can publish content to hand-held devices as well as desktop devices, all from the same workflow.

Video by Vizrt

Mobiletech Frame Course, June 8th

Written by Jon Arne Sæterås

Product Director

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

More information and registration:

This one day course is an unique opportunity to learn the latest techniques and tools from some of the developers of one of the most successful mobile frameworks around. You will learn about mobile web development in general, but we will use most of the day to learn about Mobiletechs mobile web framework.

  • Overview of the mobile landscape
  • Develop using Frame Widgets
  • Device detection and adaptation
  • Extending Widgets and creating your own Widgets
  • Using HTML5 features
  • Developing for iPad and tablets
  • Testing

Who should attend:

This is a customer event for developers with web experience. Java and JSP knowledge is recommended. Prior experience with Mobiletechs Framework is not required.

Speaker: Anders Magnus Andersen

Anders is the head developer in Mobiletech’s Stockholm office and is also the technical product manager of “Mobiletechs Mobile Web Framework”. During his 5 years at Mobiletech, Anders has amassed a wealth of technical and market knowledge about the mobile web. Anders has a CV full of award-winning mobile sites in Scandinavia, and is a key figure in Mobiletech’s technical development.

Mobiletech announces iPad and tablet support

Written by Jon Arne Sæterås

Product Director

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

Mobiletech has the pleasure of announcing iPad support in our mobile web development framework!
We have discussed the iPad, and whether it is a mobile device or not earlier, and now we have concluded. The user experience is so much better when you handle the iPad (and other tablets) as a mobile device and honoring and utilizing the unique capabilities available. The iPad has, as the iPhone, a touch based interaction model. Hence, a web page made for mouse and keyboard will not work well.
We did a proof of concept together with Escenic for the NAB show in Las Vegas a few weeks back. This proved to be a huge sucess! So now, we have concluded on our discussion; Mobiletech will support the iPad and other tablets out there in our product offering.
The iPad support is avalable in the current release of Mobiletech Frame. Watch the video and the screen shots below.


Washington D.C.