3 Major Tablet & Smartphone Search Opportunities For Multinational Websites

Looking back at 2012 statistics for smartphone usage and tablet sales figures paints a picture of significant multinational SEO opportunity in the coming months. Here are three key SEO opportunities for 2013 and how to take advantage of them.

1. Majority Of 18-34 Demographic Will Use Their Phones To Make A Purchase In 2013

In August 2012, eConsultancy surveyed this metric, and found 42% in the US and 44% in the UK had made a purchase with their mobile.


For 35-54 year olds, the numbers drop off to 28% and 21%, respectively, and for 55+ ages, 13% and 8%. This significant drop off for older generations results in a much lower overall purchase metric of 28% and 25% for the US & UK, respectively, although this is still over double the 2011 figure.

As highly developed markets in both per-capita income and online saturation, the US & UK are bellweather markets for the rest of the developed and developing world. So, while we can say with some accuracy that 2012 was finally the year of the mobile for e-commerce, the reality is 2013 will be the breakthrough year in terms of mobile’s importance to to full retail mix for most markets.

This means that well-optimised mobile sites — and, for optimal SEO, that means responsive designs using the same URL architecture as the desktop and tablet sites — will deliver significant revenue gains for their brands.

And of course, responsive designs, in addition to preferential treatment from Google, will also allow brands with existing mobile-only URLs to consolidate via 301s and compound their domain SEO authority for stronger desktop performance: a major win-win scenario.

2.  Catering To In-Store Mobile Activity Will Reap Major Dividends In 2013

In the tail end of December, comScore released research showed that in the teeth of Christmas shopping through the last quarter of 2012, 44% of UK smartphone users performed at least one shopping activity while within a physical retail store.


The stand out items were: taking a picture of the product, texting/calling friends about the product, or sending the product picture to friends; and this has taken most of the headlines when discussing the data. But for me, the most interesting aspect is the price comparison and competitive search performance openings available in the other common behaviours.

Research indicated 20.9% scanned a barcode, 17.7% compared product prices, 11.1% found coupons of deals, 7.7% checked availability, and (only!) 5.8% purchased online instead of making a physical purchase in the store.

All of these items provide opportunity for smartphone-optimised SEO or PPC campaigns to capture a sale from a customer already quite far down the purchase funnel, likely giving very high purchase conversion rates to the captured traffic.

A key strategy opportunity would be using PPC ad extensions — especially call extensions, sitelink extensions featuring offers, and location extensions — to target these specific user behaviours in your competitors’ stores globally wherever they have bricks and mortar locations (each target city can, of course, be isolated with location targeting in your ad campaign).

3. Brands Are Facing A Tsunami Of Tablet Traffic In 2013

Adobe released a research paper (pdf) in July 2012, covering tablet sales and traffic trends to 325 brands across North America, Western Europe, and Asia-Pacific. The headline numbers are:

  • Tablet website share of visit growth has been 10x faster than equivalent smartphone growth in its first two years on the scene, and last year saw a 300% share growth.
  • This growth suggests tablets will exceed smartphone traffic in 2013, and reach 10% of total traffic in early 2014

In addition, for the retail vertical, tablet conversion rates are 3x more ‘effective’ than smartphones, which demonstrates the value of their increased screen size and different usage patterns (in another study, this time by InMobi, 72% of tablet owners used their device while watching TV, and more than 50% used their table to access rich media content).

Also in the inMobi study, the preferred device for shopping for tablet owners was their tablet device by 46% vs. 41% for their desktop machines. So, given tablet sales, the dominant trend online is the major uptick in importance of tablet site experience.


Given that targeting improved smartphone experience, alongside improved tablet experience, this is not a technical, but rather a design and usability challenge, (it’s simply a case of targeting media queries to each device type supported with JavaScript user-agent detection for belt-and-braces implementation), tablet conversion should be right at the very top of any multinational webmaster’s priority list for 2013.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Features: Analysis | Google: Mobile | Google: SEO | Google: Web Search | Multinational Search


About The Author: has over twelve years web development experience & is the founder of QueryClick Search Marketing, a UK agency specialising in SEO, PPC and Conversion Rate Optimisation strategies that deliver industry-leading ROI.

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  • http://www.mobilemartin.com/ Michael Martin

    Stating Responsive Design for multinational sites would be a poor choice, in my opinion, as all the Meta information will always be in one default language while the content would respond to the language detected…which your HTML/CSS would be inclusive of all language/region variations, negatively affecting load time.

    Dynamic Serving under one URL allows DIFFERENT HTML to be provided based on language/region/device type which would have the proper language Title Tag & Meta information and only have to load that language content to save in load time.

    Curious if you actually implemented responsive design to a multinational site and its results.

  • http://uk.queryclick.com/ Chris Liversidge

    Hi Martin – yes I have implemented this on a number of multinational websites. Your point would absolutely have been valid before Google rolled out multinational hreflang tags at the start of last year.

    See this post for a top line on how you can use hreflangs to ensure the right language pages are returned in the correct countries (and the correct country version of Google – in particular! – http://searchengineland.com/can-new-multilingual-markup-create-advantages-for-big-brand-optimisation-105384

  • http://twitter.com/MaryKayLofurno Mary Kay Lofurno

    Interesting article, good points. I really like point two because I think that this is not a consideration when many e-commerce sites design their UIUX. It might be interesting for someone to do an article with examples of sites designed with this in mind vs not.

  • http://www.mobilemartin.com/ Michael Martin


    This is based on interpreting your statement to mean using responsive design to have ALL country/language rendering under ONE URL, meaning English US, English UK, Spanish ES, Spanish MX, etc render under SITE.com/SAMEPAGE – if so, dynamic serving is the ONLY way possible, as link href lang wouldn’t make sense since all the URLs are the same.

    If you mean that all device types, but not ALL country/languages would render under ONE URL, meaning English US is SITE.com/US and English UK is SITE.com/UK, then responsive would work…but for Mobile SEO dynamic serving is needed to change intent and different keyword targeting, if you allow me to play “article UNO” :) – http://searchengineland.com/responsive-design-alone-is-not-mobile-seo-124202

  • http://uk.queryclick.com/ Chris Liversidge

    Sure thing Martin, I’m not sure how you interpreted that all site and language URLs would need to be the same for responsive designs from the article, but that’s certainly not what I’m advocating, you can see by digging though the previous articles in my column the correct architecture choices to make there – which are totally compatible with responsive solutions for multi-device support.

  • http://uk.queryclick.com/ Chris Liversidge

    Thanks Mary – yes I agree a study would help make the case for further adoption. We have a couple of clients implementing this strategy so at some stage we’ll be able to publish the outcomes. In the meantime we can keep fingers crossed that other brands are running the strategy and are willing to be generous with their outcomes for the greater good of the industry!

  • http://www.mobilemartin.com/ Michael Martin


    Thank you for the clarification, as that makes sense from a multinational view :)

    Dynamic Serving, IMHO, would still give you a better edge over Responsive since you can completely change the HTML with a true customized layout, keyword intent targeting and generally save on load time.

  • http://twitter.com/jwdlatif Jawad Latif

    So we should also work on developing mobile versions of our websites.


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