How To Do Mobile Keyword Research (With 3 Bonus Tips)

Christy Walters


March 11, 2022 (Updated: May 4, 2023)

white hands on black keyboard typing for mobile keyword research

When was the last time you conducted an internet search from your phone? Mobile search has become so common that Google, one of the world’s largest search engines, now takes a mobile-first approach. It relies on and prioritizes the mobile version of content to index rankings. If you want to stay on top of this changing search landscape, it can help to start a mobile keyword research strategy. But how? In this article, we cover:


What Is Mobile Keyword Research?

Mobile keyword research is the process of using search engine optimization (SEO) practices and strategies to decide which keywords someone may use to conduct a query on a mobile device. Common mobile searches may look for specific information or localized results. This is because people often use mobile search on the go or away from home.

For example, if you’re traveling to your child’s away basketball game and realize halfway through the trip you were supposed to pick up a card and balloons for the coach’s last game, you can use mobile search to help. You may pull into a parking lot and search “party store near me” on your phone and get an address to the closest location. Mobile keyword research allows marketers to think like searchers and determine what information they may find most valuable.

Related: 5 Keyword Research Tips That Are Simple and Effective

Mobile Keywords vs. Desktop Keywords

Keyword research is keyword research, no matter how you do it. But the biggest difference between mobile and desktop keyword research is the actual words you pick to use. Mobile keywords are usually shorter than desktop keywords because people don’t want to type as much on mobile devices. People using mobile search may also use more voice-activated features to search while multitasking. Mobile searches are also more locally-focused and are more likely to have a high click-through rate (CTR) and a low cost-per-click (CPC) for paid marketing.

While it’s common for websites to have more mobile visitors than desktop, not all experiences are created equal. Be sure to install Google Analytics on your company website to understand more about your visitors and the devices they’re using.

Why Does Mobile Keyword Research Matter?

According to a Semrush report, only 23% of marketers optimize their content for mobile devices. That number is low, especially with Google using a mobile-first index approach. Moreso, a Statista study found that in 2021, mobile devices made up a 61% share of organic search visits. Do you see the disconnect? Many people are using mobile devices for search, but few marketers are putting in the time to optimize for it.

Keyword research can tell you exactly what people are looking for online concerning your business and the competition. And what they’re looking for on mobile devices differs from what they’re looking for on their computers at home or work. To create the right content, you have to know and give the people what they want. This can help you increase conversions, which can lead to more web and foot traffic to your business, and hopefully more sales.

How To Do Mobile Keyword Research

Use these steps to help you conduct your mobile keyword research:

1. Define Your Goals

Like with almost every other aspect of SEO and marketing, if you’re doing mobile keyword research, it’s best to start with a plan. Why are you doing this? What purpose does it serve? How is it going to help your marketing and overall brand strategy? Knowing this information helps set you up to do more organized and controlled research. The answers to these questions can guide the rest of your process.

Setting goals before you research can also help you after you’ve implemented a keyword strategy. You can use your metrics to see if you’ve met these goals or if there are even more ways you can improve.

2. Find Your Current Ranking Keywords

Look at the keywords for which your content currently ranks. This can help you set a baseline for what people are looking for regarding your business. If you have keywords that are performing well on their own, that’s good. You can use them later to create more content, and most importantly, targeted content.

If you find keywords that aren’t performing well, it may be time to move away from them and replace them with new ones that are more beneficial to your audience, and ones that can perform better on mobile. There are plenty of tools you can use to help find your ranking. Choosing one that shows how a keyword performs both on desktop and mobile devices can be helpful.

3. Review the SERPs

Search engine results pages (SERPs) can give you some of the most detail about who’s ranking for what keywords. After you’ve discovered which keywords you’re ranking for, search them on a mobile device and check the SERPs. Look at what other pages are ranking for the same keywords. Study the content that ranks higher than yours and note what those companies are doing differently.

You can also search your underperforming keywords, especially if you think it may be helpful to optimize some of them for mobile. Look at the top-ranking results and try to understand why they rank so high and what that content does differently than yours. This may give you ideas for new things to try or new methods to incorporate when developing your mobile keyword strategy. Also, look at the type of content that appears within SERPs. Along with traditional links, they may include map packs, quick answer boxes, and featured snippets. Note which keywords trigger these features.

4. Choose Shorter Keywords

white hands on black keyboard typing for mobile keyword research

Image via Unsplash by @vmxhu

Typing on a mobile device can take more time and concentration than typing on a traditional keyboard. This is because the buttons or touch items are much smaller. For this reason, many mobile searchers use fewer keywords when searching for content on those devices. They may use just one or two words instead of full sentences or questions. For example, rather than searching for “where is the nearest park” on a mobile device, someone may search for “parks nearby” or “parks Pittsburgh.” Being aware of this shift can help you target the most effective keywords for each search.

5. Research Location-Based Keywords

Local SEO is important for mobile. We’ve already said it more than once, but it’s so important we’re telling you again. That’s how much it matters. When doing mobile keyword research, looking into the words and phrases “near me” and “nearby” is important because they’re the most frequently used keywords for location-based mobile searches. They’re so common that Google may even suggest them for you as you’re typing a search query. The only downside is you can’t actually rank for the keywords “near me” or “nearby.”

How do you work around that? You can optimize your keyword for your city or geographic location. For example, if you want someone to find your business when they search “ice skating rinks nearby,” you may work on keywords like “ice skating rinks Pittsburgh.” Through location services and search, this technique can help people find your content when they use those target keywords. You can also claim your Google Business Profile if you have a physical business address to do more optimization work behind the scenes.

Related: How To Claim Your Business on Google (And Why It Matters)

3 Tips for Mobile Keyword Research

Use these tips to take your mobile keyword research to the next level:

1. Learn the User Intent

User intent is one of the most important factors when choosing mobile keywords. The content you provide should answer a user’s question with the keywords submitted to search. A good way to determine intent is to think about what Semrush calls “micro-moments.” Micro-moments are simply opportunities to break down what a user is thinking at the exact time they’re conducting a search. Why are they searching for this thing at this moment and how can we help? Mobile searchers often prioritize convenience and immediacy. Keep those principles in mind when doing mobile keyword research.

2. Know and Use the Query Types

More query types exist when doing a mobile search compared to a desktop search. They include:

  • Spoken: These are voice-activated searches conducted by giving a command or tapping a button and then speaking into your device.
  • Typed: These are like a traditional desktop search where the user types information into a search bar.
  • Local: With these queries, users search for a place or thing nearby to their current location.
  • Informational: With these searches, users look for an answer to a question that may or may not relate to their current location.
  • Typo: These queries may include misspelled words or misused parts of speech either from typing on a small screen or from imperfect voice recognition technology.
  • Typo-free: These are ideal searches where the user spelled and used all words correctly within the search term.
  • Image-based: These searches use your device’s camera to take a picture of a scene or object and then “translate” the image into a search. Google Lens is one of the forefront types of this search.


It’s important to know that all these query types exist and account for them in your strategy. They speak to user intent and all have the potential to increase your organic traffic.

Related: 5 Things You Need To Know About Internal Website Search

3. Pay Extra Attention to Non-Text Searches

Non-text searches are the ones with spoken and image-based queries. While they are becoming more popular on a variety of devices—like televisions and even laptops—non-text searches are still primarily unique to mobile search. Both types can pose problems for SEO specialists and marketers. How are you supposed to rank text-based results when people in your target audience run non-text searches? How can you rank for keywords when the search, especially an image-based one, doesn’t even use them?

This principle comes back to understanding user intent. Why is someone in your audience using a non-text search? For voice searchers, people may use queries that are more conversational when they multitask. They may ask more questions with this type of search. You can tailor your content toward those specific needs based on your products or services. With image searches, people may use them to determine what something is, why it exists, or why it looks familiar. This intent can help you craft content that answers these questions and has visuals to go with it.

Related: Don’t Forget To Optimize Your Images for SEO

Keyword Research with CopyPress

If you’re looking to improve your keyword research strategies and other areas of your content marketing development, CopyPress has you covered. Our Content Marketing Analysis tool is an important resource that helps you understand how your content performs against competitors. It can tell you information like:

  • The best opportunities to increase reach
  • How your content stacks up against three of your competitors
  • The “low hanging fruit” opportunities where you can access new keywords and places to put your resources for maximum impact
  • A review of your backlinks and their effect on your content


The “low hanging fruit” opportunities can help you with your mobile keyword research. They show gaps in your marketing strategy. These may be areas where your audience is searching for content and answers, but they just can’t seem to find the right results. You can jump in and provide what they need. Our Content Marketing Analysis tool is perfect for both mobile and desktop keyword research. Request your free report today, then schedule an introductory call with CopyPress to find out more about how we analyze your content gaps and produce what you need to reach your target audience in any vertical.

“CopyPress gives us the ability to work with more dealership groups. We are able to provide unique and fresh content for an ever growing customer base. We know that when we need an influx of content to keep our clients ahead of the game in the automotive landscape, CopyPress can handle these requests with ease.”

Kevin Doory

Director of SEO at Auto Revo

9 More Mobile Keyword Research Tools

If you’re looking for additional tools to help with your mobile keyword research, consider:

  1. Google Keyword Planner
  2. Ahrefs
  3. Alexa Keyword Research
  4. Google Trends
  5. Keyword Surfer
  6. Moz Link Explorer
  7. Semrush
  8. Ubersuggest
  9. KWFinder


According to Smart Insights, people spend 51% of their time using digital media on mobile devices. Because the focus is always meeting people where they are, spending more time conducting mobile keyword research can help your overall strategy and allow you to get the most from your marketing efforts. Are you ready to get the help you need to create the best content and put it in front of your audience where they visit most? Start a call with CopyPress to learn more about how our team of creatives and strategists are able to create high-quality content and put more hours back in your day to focus on business operations.

Author Image - Christy Walters
Christy Walters

CopyPress writer

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