Mobile Web and App Strategy
Now that mobile search has overtaken desktop search, it is more important than ever for SEO practitioners to make sure that their clients’ websites and apps are ideally set up for the mobile search experience.
Google’s latest algorithm changes (as of April 2015) reward apps and sites that deliver a premium mobile user experience. They also now index apps so they can incorporate app content into local search results.
So how best to evaluate your (or your client’s) mobile search optimization? There are several excellent tools available for this purpose.
- For mobile search analysis: SEMrush, URL Profiler, OnPage.org, SEOmonitor, and SISTRIX.
- For analyzing mobile apps: SensorTower, Mobile Action, AppTweak, and SearchMan.
- For cross-web-app mobile competitive analysis: SimilarWeb.
There are several important steps that must be taken when evaluating your mobile search optimization, including:
First, you will need to conduct market research by identifying the biggest competitors in your industry for mobile web (using SISTRIX or SEMrush), app search (using SearchMan and Mobile Action), and desktop search.
Next, compare your mobile traffic to that of your competitors. Although you can’t exactly predict what your mobile web traffic will be like, using SimilarWeb to take a look at what your top mobile competitors are getting can give you a reasonable baseline. Check out factors like installs, active users, number of sessions, etc. SimilarWeb also allows you to see how your mobile app is doing in comparison to the competition.
After you’ve completed the preliminary research, you should perform a deeper-dive rankings comparison using SISTRIX or SEMrush. SimilarWeb can provide a report about how your mobile app ranks in store keyword searches, popularity, and related search volume. If you want to look at historical data trends, Mobile Action and SearchMan can provide these and even assign scores to evaluate the obstacles your app might be facing and how it stacks up against the competition. For an even more in-depth look, you can find out which external sources are funneling users to your mobile app as well as that of your competitors by pulling a “Search Engine Keywords” report from SimilarWeb.
By learning which keywords deliver the most traffic to your properties and those of your competitors, you can figure out where the competition is coming out ahead of you (so you can bolster your approach in these areas) and where they’re vulnerable (in which case you can take advantage of the gaps in their strategy). One report that shows you this information is the “Position Changes” report from SEMrush. Similarly, the SISTRIX “Opportunities” report is a gold mine of info nuggets that that help you identify mobile keywords where you can take advantage of a reduced competition level while getting a very good amount of potential traffic.
A couple of other great tools for evaluating mobile keywords are the “Keyword Detector” from Mobile Action and the “Suggested Keywords” tab on AppTweak. All of this keyword data will help you focus on the keywords that will get your properties seen by more mobile search users.
You will also need to know how your desktop search visibility compares to your mobile search visibility. For example, is there any overlap between the best keywords on mobile and the ones you’re prioritizing in your desktop strategy? OnPage.org has a nifty tool called an “Impact Report” that works with the Google Search Console to analyze this data for you. You can also utilize the mobile-focused reports from SEOmonitor to view keyword trends over time in a graph format.
Next, focus on the most critical pages of your website. If those pages are not yet optimized for the mobile search experience, use the information you have gleaned from the various reporting and data analysis tools to develop an action plan to remedy the situation if they are not up to par. (Tip: you can use URL Profiler to find out which related URLs there are for your desired target keywords and then let Google’s API validate their mobile-friendliness and “Mobile Pagespeed” score.) OnPage.org’s “Zoom” feature can tell you how Google’s mobile crawler evaluates your site’s load speed, ability to locate mobile pages, and ability to display correctly on mobile devices.
After you have evaluated your own website, see what tactics your competitors are successfully using to get more user visits from external search engines. SimilarWeb’s “Search Engine Keywords” and “External Traffic” tools can reveal which keywords are directing traffic to which apps.
Once you’ve identified these tactics, you’ll need to verify the competitor’s mobile search results; you can mimic an Android mobile search using Chrome’s “Device Mode” feature to discover your competitors’ search results are pointing to their apps, how they are achieving this, and what kind of ranking they’re getting. Google Search Analytics can tell you if you’re competing effectively in this space.
If you’re finding that your positions and clicks are lower than you’d like, make sure that:
- Your content shows up in search results the way you want it to
- You are ranking with the appropriate page
- The app referral displays properly
- You don’t have any crawl errors (Google has a report that can tell you this)
- Your app’s content can be fetched by Google in an accessible manner
- Your app indexing is aligned with your most important keywords
This information may seem overwhelming at first, but it will help you pinpoint many new sources of mobile search opportunities. Serving the mobile consumer will not only help you satisfy the Google search gods, it will also provide you with more opportunities to get in front of your target customers and increase/diversify your revenue.