How to Improve your Mobile Search Rankings

We recently featured an article on Mobile Advertising and explained how an increasing amount of online activity is happening on mobile devices. According to Forrester Research, 4.8 billion people globally will use mobile phones in 2016. 75% of Internet users went online via a mobile device at the end of 2015.

As the diagram below from GlobalWebIndex shows, mobile devices are starting to overtake all other devices in terms of time spent online.

GWI Mobile Internet Access diagram for digital strategy plan

Some analysts predict that we are approaching a “Mobile Tipping Point” at which mobile usage will exceed that of all other devices combined. GlobalWebIndex predicts that this will happen in 2018.

Whether or not they are correct, the mobile internet access trend can only continue to gather momentum in the coming months and years, so it is essential that marketers develop effective digital marketing strategies to succeed in this channel.

Part of this is developing an understanding of how different approaches are sometimes needed when marketing to mobile rather than desktop. Also – particularly since Google’s Mobilegeddon – what factors make your website mobile friendly and likely to achieve high search rankings?

The American organisation Searchmetrics have recently released the results of a study on mobile search rankings. Although US-orientated, many of the lessons to be learned apply equally to the UK market. As an organisation Searchmetrics aims to deliver both the knowledge and the platform to successfully increase companies organic traffic and revenue.

Their study analysed the top 30 mobile phone Google search results for 10,000 relevant keywords. The resulting report highlighted some of the main factors on which marketers can focus to optimise their digital presence to increase their mobile search rankings.

Digital marketing on video streaming site -507066872

Three of the main areas that were of particular interest to us were:

  • User experience (UX)
  • Technical
  • Content

Let’s look at five top Searchmetrics findings and other current thinking in each of these three areas.

User experience (UX)

  1. Either use responsive design to automatically adjust the format to suit whichever device is being used or have a dedicated mobile site.
  2. Use a larger font size above the fold BUT a smaller main body font than for non-mobile devices.
  3. Include fewer images and fewer interactive elements such as menus and buttons.
  4. Use bullet pointed lists to help structure information.
  5. Keep lists short and not too many individual points.


  1. Keep your file size as small as possible to minimise load time.
  2. Avoid Flash as it is not widely supported by mobile devices.
  3. Optimise your web page to display well on mobile screen sizes.
  4. Ensure any URL redirects work as well on mobile as they do on desktop.
  5. Don’t over-rely on users being prepared to install an app for the best experience! Just because a website is being viewed on a mobile device doesn’t mean that it needs to become app-like.


  1. Content must be as high quality as on any other media.
  2. High-ranking content on mobile pages tends to be shorter than desktop, coming out at an average of 867 words as opposed to 1,285 words for top ranking desktop results.
  3. Use fewer internal links to related content. Google advises against placing links too close to each other on mobile pages.
  4. Use proof words i.e. words that are strongly related to the primary keyword.
  5. Also include relevant terms i.e. words that are not as closely related to the main keyword, yet are still likely to appear in the same context.


So, what is our overall conclusion from the above points? As we have seen, mobile internet access is continuing to grow at an exponential rate, and it’s becoming increasingly clear – as highlighted above – that the techniques needed to achieve high rankings for your mobile pages may well differ from those for your desktop pages.

Certainly for businesses wanting to achieve a deservedly decent share of the mobile market, it may well be time to start looking at mobile page optimisation and SEO as a separate and unique digital marketing strategy from that of your other channels.