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Seeking with Siri

Andreas Voniatis | October 18, 2012

Seeking With Siri infographic

The mobile Web is a fast-growing online arena. Home to more than 4 billion connected smartphones, statistics show that mobile use will overtake desktop traffic by 2014. This means that no matter what kind of business you run, your audience is on the mobile web, and you should be reaching them.
Mobile SEO presents several unique challenges, but it is also a great opportunity for those willing to put the time in. Below, we explore the ins and outs of mobile search marketing and the impact that it is having on today’s business landscape.

The Growing Dominance of Mobile Searchers

Today, 90 percent of mobile searches result in an action such as visiting a business location or purchasing a product. Increasingly, a majority of consumers are becoming more comfortable shopping from their mobile devices. In fact, a full 60 percent of shoppers with smartphones search for a product on their mobile device before buying. These aren’t rare occurrences, either; 50 percent of mobile searchers made a mobile purchase in the last six months.
By now, the message your customers are sending should be very clear: you need a mobile search strategy, or you will be lost to those that have one.
Optimisation on the Mobile Web

Mobile search optimisation is similar in practice to standard SEO; however, there are several best practices to keep in mind:

  • Responsive web design - Considered industry best practice and is recommended by Google. This includes using CSS media queries for device rendering, and using uniformed HTML across all devices.
  • Dynamic Serving - Google notes that different HTML can dynamically live on the same URL if Responsive design is not optimal.
  • Separate mobile URLs - Fair game, and do not actually affect organic search traffic, nor weaken your “link juice” as mobile users may have different needs to desktop users and thus need different copy messsaging.
  • Sites first, apps later! - Apps are limited in their reach, while sites will drive traffic. 50 percent of consumers would not recommend a business with a bad mobile site, while 40 percent said they would use a competing business if it provided a better mobile experience.
  • Avoid Transcoders – Transcoders add irrelevant and unnecessary content to indexes.
  • Researching your mobile audience - Prior to creating your mobile site, it is imperative to understand the wants and needs of whom you are trying to reach.
  • Broaden your topic scope: Mobile users search differently than desktop surfers; often times they ask very specific questions and sometimes they use voice requests.
  • Use internal mobile site search tools - Pay close attention to your mobile traffic in web analytics and identify unique mobile searches and referrers. Doing this will help you further profile your mobile users’ needs.
  • Optimise your mobile content: Mobile users are often on the go and do not have the same goals as those sitting behind a computer. Create custom mobile content to give researchers exactly what are looking for.
  • Make Desktop Pages Accessible to Mobile Searchers – Point blank: An unreachable desktop page is unusable to mobile searchers.
  • Content, content and content – Having content that is useful, entertaining, or both will help attract links from other sites increasing your mobile search reputation.
  • Maximise Site Speed – A faster site will make for a better mobile user experience.
  • Optimise Socially – Optimising social profiles for social topics will add to your site’s relevancy since most people often access their social media through mobile technology.

Getting Along with Siri

Siri and other mobile search assistants have been pegged by search catastrophists as the death of search optimisation, but this is a dramatic overreaction.
The truth is that Siri presents unique challenges and opportunities to marketers, which should be approached intelligently when optimising for mobile web search.
Siri often bypasses traditional search

  • For many searches, such as for stores and restaurants, Siri will ignore the traditional search results and compare your location with Yelp listings.
  • The Solution: Ensure that your mobile SEO strategy pays appropriate attention to optimisation in places like Yelp, Google Places, Yahoo Places, etc.
  • Siri affects the social landscape
  • Siri and similar global search aids are programmed to draw results from particular social services. If you aren’t equally relevant on all the majors, you risk being left behind.
  • The Solution: Build your following on all relevant social networks and influential communities to ensure relevancy.
  • Siri ignores PPC altogether
  • Pay-per-click might as well not exist to Siri; none of the results the software returns contain ads.

The Solution: If your current strategy focuses strongly on pay-per-click, you’ll need to broaden your strokes and cover more ground in the mobile search space.

Recent Siri improvements

Recently, Siri has expanded its search and commerce capabilities including:

  • Expanded languages and functionality in more countries
  • Voice-based dinner reservations, sport score searching, and up-to-date movie show times and reviews
  • Turn-by-Turn on the road voice navigation
  • More feasible social sharing of content via voice only—no tapping – including Facebook and Twitter.

In addition to these increased capabilities made by Apple, Wolfram Alpha, the main database behind Siri, has also made strides in fixing search problems to provide for a better customer experience.
Concluding Paragraph: As search continues to go mobile, more and more commerce will take place from your customers’ smartphones and tablets. Taking advantage of the opportunities that a strong mobile search strategy offers your business is just as important as optimising for desktop traffic.


Andreas qualified as a management accountant (ACMA) after graduating in Economics with honours from Leeds University. In 2003, pursued a career in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and has since held various Head of Search roles for award winning agencies including Infectious Media and prestigious startups. In 2010, Andreas became an independent consultant to international agencies and brands worldwide providing SEO consultancy services and online PR, including Exxon Mobil, Tesco, HSBC, Zurich, Quorn as well as startups including Discount Vouchers. His work has been featured in the Telegraph and Search Engine Watch particularly for reverse engineering the Google Penguin algorithm to a 98% statistical confidence level in 2013.