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Thought Leadership

Search Engine Marketing: Optimizing for Connected Devices

Executive Summary

Continued growth in connected device media adoption provides impact and opportunity for our clients:

  • The mobile media user population has grown 19% in the past year to more than 116 million people
  • Nearly 7% of all U.S. digital traffic is being consumed by smartphones, tablets and other connected devices
  • Continued growth can be attributed to a 52% YOY growth in smartphone adoption
  • Research shows the number of connected devices is estimated to increase from 9 billion in 2011 to more than 24 billion in 2020
  • With connected device usage continuing to grow at a rapid pace, it is necessary to employ the proper best practices to ensure your site is visible in the search engine results and is accessible for users.


More accessibility as well as enhanced connectivity to the Internet from portable devices has allowed people to access information more easily.

These connected devices interact with the Internet in different ways, some through applications specifically designed for the medium, others limited by the scaled-down functionality of the device, while others have full functionality and browsing capabilities. All of these devices are important because of what and how they enable a consumer’s behavior.

Reaching, engaging and retaining users through these devices has become more important as connected devices continue to replace desktop computers. Providing consumers with more opportunities to interact with brands creates new opportunities and challenges for marketers and merchants.

Building a strong offering for connected devices is one of the latest and most distinctive ways of reaching your primary audience and defeating the competition. It’s not enough to build a site that’s mobile friendly, it’s critical to optimize it properly for search engines. With Google’s recent updates, more timely and relevant results – dedicated to searchers’ location as well as their personal search behavior – are available.

Natural Search Ranking Factors

Search engines have the ability to identify your device and your location when you’re searching on the go in order to return more relevant local results. This puts local stores, restaurants and businesses on a more level playing field with larger brands and online-only retailers.

In addition to identifying local businesses, research shows that social media sites and sites designed for connected device users (e.g., Yelp and Urban Spoon) are also more likely to be returned in a search on a connected device.

Additional mobile cues and influencers include:

Technical Considerations

Many consumers use both connected device and desktop browsers to view a website. Being able to serve content and features while maintaining similar functionality between different devices is an important element to consider.

Investing in a desktop/mobile version at the beginning of web development can allow both a desktop and mobile version to exist at the same URL with CSS & HTML modifications, rather than redirecting to a mobile URL. This can create a better user experience establish off-site promotion consistency as well as simplify the monitoring of performance and engagement through analytics. Additionally, Rosetta recommends minimizing file size of images, CSS, JavaScript and the use of progressive enhancements to allow for functionality on all browser versions.

On-Site Optimization

Traditional SEO and local content creation are still applicable. We always recommend creating keyword-rich meta tags and internal links. Because of the limited screen real estate on connected devices, we recommend creating shorter, descriptive header tags and body content. Within that content we also recommend including geographical keywords.

Off-Site Promotion

SEO off-site promotion best practices apply. Rosetta recommends actively pursuing links to your mobile site. Anchor text remains critical in addition to including strong keywords; we recommend that anchor text also include location- and category-related information. Additionally, it’s important to build or utilize existing useful tools, video content or features that would aid a connected device searcher. Be certain to build links to these assets as well.


The number of people accessing the Internet through connected devices continues to grow at an exponential rate. Preparation for this change is required to make the most of this opportunity, and your online SEO strategy must account for connected devices, technical limitations, content and promotion considerations for connected devices because of the increased impact on your ability to effectively market to your audience. Understanding your customers’ wants and needs have become more important than ever. Integration of SEO best practices gives you the greatest opportunity to reach, maintain and even expand your market share online.


  1. Google. The Mobile Movement: Understanding Smartphone Users. http://www.gstatic.com/ads/research/en/2011_TheMobileMovement.pdf. April 2011. Accessed January 30, 2012.
  2. Comscore. Digital Omnivores: How Tablets, Smartphones and Connected Devices are Changing U.S. Digital Media Consumption Habits. http://www.comscore.com/Press_Events/Presentations_Whitepapers/2011/Digital_Omnivores. October 10, 2011.Accessed January 30, 2012.