How to Perform Mobile Keyword Research

how to perform mobile keyword researchHere’s a question for you: do you ever perform mobile keyword research?

It may seem like a stupid question to ask with Google’s mobile-first approach being widely spoken about. But surprisingly enough, few webmasters actually pay the necessary attention to the platform when doing content research.

And, who can blame them?

Most SEO professionals work on desktops or laptops, so sometimes it’s easy to forget that there are different requirements for mobile. This could prove to be a major oversight, though.

Approximately 55.5% of all web traffic came from mobile devices in 2020. This figure is predicted to increase in 2021 and the years after. Thus, by neglecting to optimize for the platform, you could be cutting out more than half your potential target market.

So, how can you make sure that you include mobile data in your keyword research?

Well, here are our top three mobile keyword research tips to help increase your traffic on the platform.

1.      Acknowledge that Mobile and Desktop Keywords Differ

The way we search on mobile differs from how we search on a desktop in several ways. The way people choose to search on mobile even differs depending on how you prefer to get your information (i.e., voice search vs. typing.)

SEO professionals have identified three popular unique mobile keyword variants:

  1. Typo-laced keywords
  2. Spoken queries
  3. Geographic keywords/Information keywords

Let’s have a deep-detailed look at each of these types of keywords.

online mobile keyword research
Editorial credit: ArthurStock /

Typo-Laced Queries

People enjoy searching on mobile because of the quick access to information. Sometimes, the speed at which you try to type search queries coupled with a smaller screen leads to typos.

At some point in search engine history, adding typo-laced keywords was a way to gain more traffic. Essentially, webmasters would insert purposely misspelled keywords hoping that content would come up for those keywords, and some saw success with the strategy.

Nowadays, this strategy is considered somewhat outdated, particularly after the 2019 BERT update. Google usually understands what users mean when making an error. Thus, the algorithm is more likely to bring up the SERPs for the keyword natural language processing suggests the user meant.

While as recently the search engine still brought up different pages for incorrect keywords as recently as 2018, this no longer seems to be the case.

You can still add typo-laced keywords to your content, but traffic effects seem to be mostly marginal these days. Also, with the push towards quality content, there is a chance that the algorithm could penalize you overuse such keywords. There’s no harm in trying, though.

Spoken Queries

The popularity of voice search is growing, especially as AI assistants grow in capabilities and function.  The thing is; people don’t use traditional keywords when using the first search for two reasons:

  1. People speak quicker than they type. Traditional keywords came as a result of people wanting to enter a query in a search bar speedily. Chances are you can say a question in less time than it would take you to type it out.
  2. You sound like an idiot when you say traditional search queries out loud, and you don’t want that.

Voice searches are more likely to be phrased as a question than as a bunch of nouns and adjectives. For example, people using voice search are more likely to phrase a query like “Where can I buy a PS5 now?”

A person typing the query is more likely to type something along the lines of “buy PS5”, “PS5 for sale”, or “PS5 Amazon”, etc.

As such, including targeted questions in your content is a way to optimize for mobile. It also helps in many other SEO areas, such as the fact that Google likes answering questions and that content is more likely to sound natural.

mobile keywords

Geographic Keywords/Informational Keywords

Many keywords used on mobile devices can be categorized either as either a “geographic” or “informational” keyword.

Geographic keywords involve a locational identifier. It could be specific, such as “Italian restaurants in Chicago” or more general, such as “Italian restaurants near me.”

The general aim of geographic keywords is to find out specific information about an area quickly. For example, the above search will likely yield a knowledge panel generated by Google filled with Italian restaurants in the mentioned area.

Informational keywords usually have to with learning something new. For example, “how to play guitar” or “tips for improving fitness,” etc. These searches require a significantly higher time investment from users.

While informational search queries do exist on mobile, they aren’t as popular as geographic queries. Generally, on mobile, people are looking for quick answers to easy questions.

However, people are more likely to use their PC or laptop when trying to learn something new. After all, it isn’t easy to navigate across many tabs on mobile.

As such, you should place a stronger focus on select geographic keywords when optimizing for mobile. You could even take it a step further and look to include location schema if you are using Google My Business in your content.

Before making changes, ensure you are considering user intent before jumping in blindly.

2.      Analyze the Mobile Data from Search Console and Analytics

Google gives you a lot of data about how people find your site and which devices they are using to perform the search. You can obtain this information from Google Search Console and Google Analytics.

mobile keyword research

On Search Console, you can filter the data through devices. If you filter through mobile, you will get an insight about which search terms your content is garnering clicks and impressions for on smartphones and tablets.

Analytics will provide you with a clearer understanding of what percentage of people visit your site on mobile versus desktop. You’ll also get a better understanding of the bounce rate on each platform and how many pages people visit per session. This can improve invaluable when deciding how to structure your content.

You can still use traditional platforms like SEMrush, Google Keyword Planner, Ahrefs, and WebCEO to get keyword suggestions. However, bear in mind that most of these platforms make no distinction between mobile and desktop traffic. You’ll often find that the tool will give you the same data regardless of whether you select the mobile option.

3.      Focus on Using Shorter Keywords

As mentioned above, people don’t like typing out long sentences on mobile. For a lot of people, the process takes much longer than typing on a regular keyboard. As a result, you aren’t likely to see as many long-tail keywords coming up from people searching on mobile.

So, why should your content be structured to target these keywords?

Don’t get us wrong; we aren’t saying you should completely abandon long-tail keywords. However, you should emphasize the keywords your research shows that people are using to find you on mobile.

Most of the time, you will find that these keywords are shorter than those seen on a desktop. However, when doing keyword research, it is important to ensure you look at all aspects of why a keyword may be turning up in your findings frequently before making changes.

Download our presentation on this topic: How to Perform Keyword Research