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Mobile Search Engine Optimization (Mobile SEO): Optimizing Websites for Mobile Devices
M.S.Rawat, S.K. Dubey
AbstractThis paper presents and discusses the approaches used in mobile search engine optimization (Mobile SEO). The search engines used for mobile devices are mobile optimized versions as bandwidth limitation, different mobile platforms and other factors come in to play. As a result search algorithms used by these search engines are different for mobile devices as compare to desktop systems. This paper provides a deep insight about mobile SEO through analysis and implementation of selected search engine optimization techniques that are revealed to achieve higher rankings in search results for a mobile website. Index TermsMobile optimized search engines, Mobile search engines, Mobile search , Mobile search engine optimization, Mobile SEO, SEO, Search engine optimization.

OBILE phones have revolutionized the way we communicate in todays world. From their humble beginnings, they have now rapidly evolved to become an access point for the internet. With the advent of cheaper android based smart phones as well as internet enabled mobile phones, more and more people are using mobile devices to access the internet. Industry research and numbers also point to the fact of rising mobile internet access and smart phone penetration in India. According to a research study conducted by Google and IPSOS, 94% of Indian Smartphone users have used their devices to access the internet. Additionally in what is being considered as an important landmark, the internet traffic via mobile phones has overtaken desktop internet traffic. Also importantly, 40% of search queries on Google India come from mobile phones [1]. All these stats and numbers indicate that mobile internet is slated explode in the coming years. Predictive research puts the number of mobile internet users in India at roughly 2.9 billion by the year 2016 [2].Therefore with such immense potential, it is imperative that websites are optimized for mobile phones so that they capture a majority of the mobile search queries on the internet. A conventional website is not optimized for mobile devices in terms of design, layout as well as for mobile search queries. Although, there isnt a sea of difference between how a conventional web crawler works and a mobile crawler works, there are enough differences to make the case for a separate strategy for mobile SEO. Additionally, search queries from mobile phones are markedly different compared to normal search queries. Also, user behavior is different when performing the same search from a mobile device versus a desktop since the ecosystem of a mobile phone is different compared to a desktop. Factors like screen size, resolution, touch screen or non touch screen devices also are known to impact mobile search behavior and click through rates Moreo-

ver, depending on the type of user query, there has been differences to the tune of 86% on the search performed on a desktop versus a mobile phone [3]. Therefore, with rising mobile searches, increased smart phone & internet enabled mobile penetration & the difference of search results for mobile versus desktop, all are compelling reasons why it is imperative for traditional websites to develop their strategy for Mobile SEO and capitalize on mobile searches. This is also important since conventional SEO leaves a significant gap which does not tailor to the mobile audience. In this research paper, we will detail out strategies which websites can employ to improve their chances of capturing this growing segment of the Internet.


Search Engine Optimization is the process of affecting the visibility of a web page or a website in a search engines natural or organic listings. This process relies on knowledge of how search engines work, what factors are important in the search engines ranking algorithm as well as an anticipation of user keyword searches. Optimizing involves a host of activities like making the HTML code more search engine friendly, improving the site indexation as well improving the number of links linking in to the website.

2.1 How Search Engines Work Its practically impossible to do Search Engine Optimiz ation without an understanding of how search engines work. To keep things simple, as shown in figure 1, we have given a quick overview of the process that enables search engines to return relevant search results based on user queries. Broadly, the search engines implement two major functions which are crawling and building an index as well as calculating the most relevant answers based on



an algorithm and then serving results. 2.1.1 Crawling and Indexation Process A web crawler is an automated program or bot that browses the internet for the purpose of Web Indexing. The web crawler has a list of URLs ready to crawl. Based on a certain criteria, it selects a URL and visits the web page. Once it downloads the webpage, the crawler parses the page splitting it into different components of HTML like Meta tags, URLs, text content etc and stores the same in a database. The information in the database forms a search engines web index. After this is process is done, the crawler repeats it for the other URLs in its queue or for the other links found on the site. However since the internet is vast, the number of times a crawler visits a page is dependent on factors like bandwidth as well as certain criteria based on the crawlers program (or algorithm). Crawling is one of the most difficult and complicated process of search engines and determining an optimal crawling algorithm is like a moving target. Once the crawling process is completed, its important for search engines to make sense of the data. This is important since only then will the search engines able to present the data relevant to a users query. The data is often stored in huge datacenters so that whenever there is a user search around the data, it can be recalled and presented as a search result in the most minimal time possible.

Keyword Rich but Precise Meta Title Tag Keyword Rich but Precise Meta Description Tag Keyword Rich but Precise Meta Keywords Search Engine Friendly & Keyword rich URLs Search Engine Friendly Site Navigation Keyword Rich Content Keyword Rich Link Anchor Text Image Alt text using Keywords Heading Tags using Keywords Sitemap HTML & XML Back links Search Engine Friendly site Architecture Website Loading time

However, this is only an indicative list of factors which search engines take into account. The actual numbers of variables are not known since search engines do not release such data in the public domain. Google has stated that they look at more than 200 factors in the algorithm [5]. Yahoo also looks at a host of factors in order to find out the relevance of a search result with respect to the search keyword. 2.1.3 The Mobile Crawler As more and more people started to use mobile phone for searches, there was a shift in the search ecosystem where more searches started originating from mobile devices. Unlike conventional desktops & laptops, mobile devises are much more diverse and have a variety of different displays as well as platforms. Due to such limitations, serving conventional search results on mobile phones lead to a suboptimal user experience. Therefore, this gave birth to the case of a mobile only crawler. Google has taken the lead and developed 2 mobile specific crawlers which are the Feature Phones GoogleBot- Mobile and Smartphone Googlebot Mobile. Its mobile crawler is made to improve the experience of websites on a mobile device by redirecting users to the mobile friendly website in the search results so that users get the best possible experience. The mobile friendly sites are better optimized for smaller screens, resolution as well as in some cases for Smartphones as well. Googles mobile crawler ensures in case there is a mobile version of a site , the mobile searchers are redirected to that version instead of facing the inconvenience of having to browse the full version of the website on a mobile device. How this process works can be understood by taking the following example [6]. Suppose a user does a search from an Android phone trying to find their favorite online retail site (say in this case for shopping or price comparison of a product or list of products. If the person types in the URL of that website in the Android browser, then they would be redirected to a mobile optimized version of the website. However, before the Google Bot mobile, if a user would have clicked on a search result of the website, they would land up at the full version of the website which would be an inconvenience. Google Bot mobile allows webmasters

Fig. 1. Working Process of Search Engine

2.1.2 Search Engine Relevancy Picking the most relevant search results based on the users query is one of the most critical aspects of a search engine. Although every search engine is different, most of them focus on picking the most relevant result. Determination of relevancy is done not manually but by algorithms. Search algorithms are a combination of mathematical equations based a number of factors which are numerous in number. Some of main influencing factors are known to be as follows [4]:



to provide the search engine with mobile content and the crawler can actively seek mobile content as opposed to the previous situation.


Although many of the rules that apply for conventional website optimization also apply for mobile websites, there are a lot of additional factors that come into play when optimizing a site for mobile devices [7].

No need for redirections The negatives are as follows In case there is an existing website in place which is not responsive in nature, then it will have to be redesigned which can be time consuming and expensive Less differentiation for mobile phones as well as a lower level of customization 3.3.2 Dynamic Serving This concept is based on the principle of two HTML codes being served, one for mobile devices and one for Desktops & laptops. Once a mobile use agent is detected by the web server, the browser serves the mobile friendly HTML code and if a conventional user agent is detected, then the conventional HTML code is served to the browse. The positive of this approach are listed as follows: Same single URL Differentiated Mobile experience & hence better mobile user experience.

3.1 Mobile Research & Analysis Before starting, its important for webmasters to unde rstand where the existing mobile traffic is coming from as well as what is the platform wise bifurcation of the same, mobile keywords and the pages visited. Information on this can be obtained from analytics platforms like Google Analytics & Omniture. By doing such analysis, webmaster can gain insights onto the users coming to the existing website via mobile devices.
After gaining insights onto the traffic that is coming to the website, its important to know what keywords people are searching for from mobile devices. This can be done by using Googles Keyword Tool and choose the mobile devices filter to find keywords. Post gaining insights into mobile searches, it is important to develop content for the searches so that it is relevant to the audience. Its also imperative that the ranking if the website should be checked for desktop searches vs mobile searches for the highly searched keywords so that any discrepancy and be worked upon.

The negatives of this approach are: Technical Complexity in implementation High maintenance cost

3.3.2 Parallel Mobile Site This concept is one of the more popular implementations where there are two separate sites, one for mobile devices and one for the desktop & laptop audience. Each website page is shown through two different URLs. Advantages of this are as follows: Easy to implement Can differentiate mobile content & good user experience

3.2 Technical issues and Site structure After gaining insights into mobile searches, its important to check how well the website renders on a mobile device using Mobile Emulators to know the site rendering on mobile device. Should also check that the website can be crawled by the GoogleBot Mobile crawler. This can be done via Google Webmaster tools or a third party tool called Screaming Frog. Its important the there should not be any technical issues due to which mobile phones are not able to access web pages on the website. 3.3 Mobile Site Architecture There are multitudes of ways webmasters can build their mobile websites and each has their share of pros and cons. The types of architectures are listed below:
3.3.1 Responsive Web design This concept relies on the having one website that adapts to a variety of different devices, resolutions, screen sizes including mobile devices as well. It uses CSS3 media queries as well as a fluid grid to adapt to the device. The positives of this approach are: Single URL and hence no duplication Easy to maintain

Disadvantages of this strategy are: Risk of Duplicate content Higher cost of maintenance

In this section two case studies are discussed. These case studies will help to better understand the concepts and nitty-gritty of mobile SEO.

4.1 Cleartrip Ecommerce is one of the biggest beneficiaries of the internet revolution and travel is highly searched on vertical. Looking at the rapidly rising mobile user base, popular travel portal Cleartrip started to conceptualize its mobile site. Their aim was to build a mobile extension of their desktop website which would follow a clean and easy to understand user interface which would work equally well on smart phones as well as feature phones.
Cleartrip tested the waters initially by launching a bare-



bones version of their mobile site. Boosted by the good response from the mobile users, Cleartrip released subsequent versions which incorporated more complex feature along with Iphone and Android support. The mobile site has now evolved to become one of leading mobile sites in India With the launch of the mobile website Cleartrip promoted it across all its online media properties. It was also optimized the mobile site for keywords around its brand name, destinations for booking, hotel name as well as airlines. As a result, the mobile traffic registered a jump from being only 2% of the overall traffic to 15% of the overall traffic [8].

that one can use for making mobile sites as well as the eternal debate on whether apps are a better idea instead of standalone sites. However, with search engines like Google developing mobile specific web crawlers and new technologies like augmented reality and voice activated search becoming more commonplace, its important to look at mobile phones with a new founded urgency. Throughout their history, mobile phones have evolved leaps and bounds from an instrument of communication to an internet enabled convergence. Companies that recognize this paradigm shift stand to benefit from adopting and developing a mobile centric strategy. As with any new technology, the first mover will have an edge over competitors who are slow to catch up with changing trends and technology.

4.2 Samsung India Being one of the leading companies in India in terms of mobile phone market share, Samsung India was an early adopter for creating and executing a mobile centric strategy to tap into its mobile audience and the growing number of mobile internet users.
Keeping all these factors in mind, Samsung designed their mobile site keeping in mind industry best practices like designing an easy to use interface in terms of navigation, readability as well as incorporating rich media & other interactive elements. Due to a high level of interactivity, engagement as well as an innovative interface, the mobile site was able to contribute to at least 18% to 20% of the overall traffic. Daily unique visitors have also shown an increase in the last 9 months [9].

[1] J. Singh, Indian appetite for Mobile Internet grows as 56% of smartphone users in the country access the Internet multiple times a day, D. Banka , India to be fastest growth mkt for mobile internet: PwC, B. Schwartz, Google Desktop Searches Differ About 86% From Mobile Searches, The Seomoz website,How Search Engines Operate, A. Smarty,Lets Try to Find All 200 Parameters in Google Algorithm, F. Santos, Improved Googlebot-mobile Makes Mobile Content Even More Important, A. Solis, Mobilize Your SEO: Making the Most Out of the Mobile Search Opportunity, The letstalkmo website by Google, Capturing travellers on mobile , a8pkI_Igv4raD51bTv5jvJfOQFswkf6faESxlexFqrwFRLOiHogmvMpISlpjeadLoXHp1KBg DbVHBmCkyCOdvuzU7mvg0hPbWAWqoQ2R1UdSLmC6KyBYnm3u78DJL9omTaJ 6xQ_CpPQfolqFTmhZCzT1nneNEfe8ueI4/case/document_dl/cleartrip.p df The letstalkmo website by Google,Focused and consistent mobile presence strategy, PmSmN3WDsrk2jm2yj9qD_CC0g9aWoLv6i849tuqLxWFX_Xzq_Pe_s8LcVRmfCHjNGhNchK7XbcbLp9Hpno4rnFiZ 8_QAgHMUdsK9erE/case/document_dl/samsung_CaseStudy






With a mass chunk of a Indian users picking up their mobile phones to surf the internet boosting the number of mobile internet to 70 million, its expected that the number of searches originating from mobile devices will only increase. In fact, it is expected that next wave of 150 180 million internet subscribers will access the internet from their mobile phone. Additionally, India ranks number 6 in the number of Smartphone users with 27 million [10]. Therefore, keeping the statistics and the trends is extremely important for companies to optimize their websites for mobile devices. Also, with different search results being shown for mobile phones and desktop searches, mobile search engine optimization is also important for companies to pay attention to with close detail. In fact it is important to come up with mobile centric strategies which will help to better target the growing mobile internet user base. Challenges in terms of mobile search however are significant in nature. Since this is an emerging market, how the future will pan out will depend on a variety of factors. Also unlike desktops, the sheer variety in mobile phone device configurations makes optimizing mobile websites a difficult task. Also, add to it the different approaches






revised.pdf. [10] N. Rajan,Mobile devices driving Internet usage in India: Google, M. S. Rawat received the B.Tech. degree in Computer Science Engineering from U.P. Technical University, India in 2006. She is an M.Tech. student at Amity School of Engineering and Technology, Amity University, India. Her research interests include Software Engineering, Artificial Intelligence and Web technologies. S. K. Dubey is an Assistant Professor in Amity University Uttar Pradesh, India. He is Ph. D. in Computer Science and Engineering from Amity University, India. His research areas include Human Computer Interaction, Software Engineering and Usability Engineering. He has published more than 30 research papers in reputed National & International Journals. He is active member of IET.