American Marketer


How to conduct mobile keyword research

October 7, 2013

Andrew Shotland is proprietor of Local SEO Guide


By Andrew Shotland

Google recently removed the ability to use its keyword tool to get mobile keyword search volume estimates.

While this makes things trickier, it does not make it impossible to get mobile keyword data. Here are a few tips:

1. Analyze mobile keywords in your analytics

Most popular analytics services allow you to filter organic and paid keywords by device type.

Create a report that shows all of the keywords driving traffic from mobile devices, and if you have data on internal search keywords from mobile devices, get that data too.

2. Use Google webmaster tools’ search queries report
The search queries tool allows you to show keywords you get the most Google impressions for filtered by mobile.

With this report, you both can get an idea of which keywords have a decent amount of search volume and identify the keywords for which you rank close to the top. These are high potential keywords to target.

3. Put the data into Google’s keyword planner tool
Even though you cannot see mobile specific volumes anymore, you now have a list of mobile-relevant keywords and their keyword volumes.

Analysts estimate that mobile now accounts for between 40-50 percent of all searches.

So, if you multiply the keyword volumes by a conservative 40 percent, you can start to get an idea of how much mobile volume there is for these.

4. Expand your keywords based on patterns
Once you have your highest volume mobile keywords, then start looking for patterns in the keyword types.

Although there are definitely some specific words that signal mobile intent, in my experience the difference between large keyword sets of mobile search terms and desktop search terms are rapidly disappearing.

This is partially because search engines are getting better at surfacing suggested search queries after the user types only a few characters.

But if you can break your keywords down into patterns such as <city name> + <service>, <city name> + <brand>, <city name + sku>, you can start to see how you can expand these keywords by adding additional cities, brands and SKU.

And you can put them into the keyword planner tool and estimate their mobile search volume.

5. Use the locations filter in the keyword planner tool
Perhaps the best feature of the new tool is the ability to research keywords by specific regions of the country by using the locations filter.

For example, if you just want to see traffic for realtor-related terms in San Diego versus San Francisco, you can now do it. And you can couple this data with keywords used by searchers from specific cities that you can get in your analytics.

6. Test, rinse and repeat
As you can see, there is no simple way, at least none that I can think of, to recreate the data that we lost from Google’s old keyword tool.

But there are still plenty of ways to try to get in the neighborhood. And getting in the neighborhood is what local mobile search is all about, right?

The attached article was written by Andrew Shotland for the Yext Quarterly: Local & Mobile.

Andrew Shotland is proprietor of Local SEO Guide, Pleasanton, CA. Reach him at