Mobile SEO is a hybrid of Search Engine Optimization and of Mobile Marketing and a specific niche of both. According to the current Wikipedia definition, “Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the volume and quality of traffic to a web site from search engines via “natural” (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search results.” Mobile search engine optimization (SEO), then, is the process of improving the volume and quality of traffic to digital content from search engines via natural search results to users entering mobile queries.
The meaning of mobile SEO can change depending upon where the “mobile” is placed in the definition, so it’s important to emphasize that the focus here is on mobile queries, as opposed to mobile search engines or mobile content. In the history of mobile search engine optimization, many have understood the process as “improving the volume and quality of traffic from mobile search engines” or “improving the volume and quality of traffic to mobile web pages”. However, given that many smartphone-equipped mobile users are able to access many types of content through their phones, including desktop pages, smartphone pages, and mobile applications, many popular search engines have begun indexing more than just mobile web pages. A forward-thinking definition of mobile SEO must recognize this fact, and broaden the focus to mobile users. This type of optimization will focus on indexing any type of content that is relevant to a mobile user (including mobile web pages, mobile applications, desktop web pages, images, feeds, etc), and optimizing it for mobile queries.
Unlike previous types of SEO, mobile SEO is not inherently about optimizing for a specialized type of content through vertical search engines. Instead, mobile SEO is focused on an entirely different “mode” of search, or with the context in which the queries are entered. As mobile search is often contrasted with desktop search in academic research, so mobile SEO is contrasted with desktop SEO. There are types of vertical search engines that index mobile content such as ringtones and wallpapers, and optimizing for these search engines is often called mobile SEO. However, since this is only one aspect of mobile search, it is only one aspect of mobile SEO. Mobile SEO could also include optimizing different media types in so far as they are relevant to a user’s mobile context.
This mobile SEO FAQ is a work in progress that depends on community input. Please contribute your thoughts to the comments section. The body of the post will be updated periodically with the best insights, and your contributions will be recognized in the contributors section of the FAQ.