How to Perform Mobile Keyword Research

How to Perform Mobile Keyword Research

Source: Neil Patel Here’s a topic I bet you haven’t thought much about: mobile keywords. If you haven’t been focusing on this, don’t beat yourself

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mobile seo

Here’s a topic I bet you haven’t thought much about: mobile keywords.

If you haven’t been focusing on this, don’t beat yourself up over it. It’s only in the last few years that SEOs and marketers have even thought about mobile keywords as different from desktop keywords.

But mobile and desktop keywords should definitely be treated as two separate things.

We’re moving more and more toward a mobile-first world. According to Smart Insights, mobile devices account for 51% of all digital media time. For many people, mobile Internet is the only Internet.

What does that mean for you? One of the most important consequences is that you’ll have to spend a lot more time on mobile marketing, and that includes mobile keyword research.

If you want people to find your site more easily, you’ll need to not only optimize your site for mobile but also start thinking mobile.

Mobile keyword research is one of the ways you can start thinking mobile. You’ll be able to give your site a mobile SEO boost so it gets seen by more people.

I’ll be honest––it’s been a challenge for me to think about mobile before desktop. It still feels weird for me. But I’ve been getting used to it and seeing some results.

Here’s how you can start performing mobile keyword research that will get you some great results like mine.

Learn how I grew my mobile search traffic to over 100,000 visitors a month through mobile SEO.

First, what’s the difference between mobile keywords and desktop keywords?

To start off, let’s take a look at exactly how the search process is different for mobile and desktop, and we’ll also look at how the keywords are different.

By “mobile keywords,” I mean keywords that are optimized for a mobile platform. For example, mobile keywords tend to be shorter because shorter keywords are easier to type on a phone or tablet.

Simply put, people use different search queries on mobile than they do on desktop.

There are three main differences:

  1. Typo errors vs. typo-free queries
  2. Spoken queries vs. typed queries
  3. Local queries vs. informational queries

Let me explain each one.

Spoken queries vs. typed queries: This is one of the key differences on mobile vs. desktop queries.

Very few people use voice commands when searching on their desktop. It’s much easier to type.

But when we’re on the go — driving, walking, etc. — it’s often easier (and safer) to use voice commands.

Typo errors vs. typo-free queries: On a mobile device, it’s more likely that you’ll make typographical errors. This is the nature of typing with thumbs and fingers on a screen as opposed to typing with a keyboard.

Local queries vs. informational queries: The biggest difference of all is the type of query that we use our devices for.

I discuss this in detail below, but it’s far more common to use a mobile device for local queries than it is to use that device for in-depth long tail informational queries.

For example, you may have found this article after typing in “tips for doing mobile keyword research.”

Is it possible that you would do a query like that on your mobile device?

Of course! But it’s way less common.

The nature of queries on mobile vs. desktop is a significant difference, and that’s why it’s crucial to optimize for mobile queries.

But why mobile? Why is mobile keyword optimization even a thing?

First, mobile search creates much faster results. A 2013 study by Google and Nielsen found that mobile search has a lot of immediate power.

Take a look at the numbers for yourself:


And here’s something surprising: 77% of mobile searches happen in environments where people probably have access to a desktop computer.


That means people are consciously choosing to use mobile for searching. The study found that this is probably because people perceive mobile searches as faster than desktop:


Mobile searches aren’t really any faster than desktop searches, but they are much more convenient. That’s a big factor that makes people gravitate toward mobile searches more than desktop searches.

So in a nutshell, that’s why people search on mobile.

Now let’s look at the types of keywords they’re using. These differ from desktop keywords in many ways, and you need to be aware of these differences if you want to optimize for mobile.

There are a few components that you might see in mobile keywords: shortness, location, and voice search.

Let’s take an in-depth look at each category.

Keep It Short

This should come as no surprise––shorter keywords are really common with mobile search.

No one wants to type super long keywords on their mobile device. It’s a heck of a lot easier to use the minimum amount of words that will get you what you’re looking for.

If you want to have the best chance of ranking well on mobile, keep your keywords short. 2 to 3 words is a good place to be.

This means that you should search out shorter keywords in your niche. We’ll be using SEMrush to analyze these keywords.

First, head to


Type in a keyword related to your niche. For the sake of example, we’ll use a longer keyword so you can see shorter alternatives. Let’s use “Mexican restaurants near me that deliver.”


Input the keyword into the search box on SEMrush and click “Start now.” You’ll see this page next:


Right now, you’re seeing the results for desktop searches.

Scroll down past the bar graph until you see a category called “Related Keywords.”


This section shows you different keywords that people are using as alternatives to the keyword you input into SEMrush.

Here, some people are using “Mexican restaurant near me that deliver” and “Mexican restaurants delivery near me,” to name a couple.

Now let’s look at related keywords on mobile and see how they’re different.

Underneath the big heading that says “Keyword Overview,” you’ll see an option to set the device.

Select the drop-down menu by clicking on the down arrow and choose Mobile as the type of device.


Notice how these keywords are noticeably shorter than the desktop keywords for the same niche.

Two of the top related keywords are “Mexican food near me delivery” and “Mexican that delivers near me.” (That keyword doesn’t even mention food or restaurants!)


You can see how the keywords become shorter and more basic in a mobile environment. The word “restaurant” is replaced with “food,” for example.

This small case study shows how mobile users as a group approach searching. It’s a very functional thing for them. They want a certain result, and they’re looking for the straightest path to that result.

These shorter keywords are the types of keywords that people…