Keyword Research

Test: Mobile Search Results For Popular Retail-Shopping Keywords

The number of mobile users is increasing at a far greater rate, it seems, than the number of mobile sites. But some merchants have already begun reacting to the mobile web by optimizing their sites for these devices.

In order to get a feel for the current status of the mobile ecommerce space, we performed a series of mobile searches on some of the most popular shopping-related keyword phrases. The purpose was to see how many mobile-optimized sites appear in the mobile search results. Here’s what we came up with.

Keyword: “Shoes”

Two colors, two menu options. Not too fancy, but fast loading and easy to use, despite the large of amount of SKUs on the site. Multiple sub-options allow users to narrow their searches greatly.

This site for women’s shoes is not a mobile site, but it does perform fairly well on a mobile device. The main image takes a while to load, but it’s good that there is only one and it doesn’t rely on Flash. Large menu options and text and the lack of body copy on the home page means less tedious zooming and scrolling.

It’s no coincidence this mobile site looks so similar to They’re both subsidiaries of Brown Shoe Company. Customers are more likely to be concerned about the shopping experience than they are the lack of originality in the mobile layout.

Keyword: “Dress”

The product pages on this mobile site are a good example of the maximum size you can make a product picture on a mobile device without overdoing it. Each product image takes up about one third of the mobile screen, which is a good rule of thumb.

Victoria’s Secret is definitely doing a good job of exploring all its marketing channels, including mobile. This is a fantastic example of a well-designed mobile home page. Prominent cart access, store locator and promotional offer tabs at the top make for easy navigation. The ad at the top of the page adds some color and interest. Customers can choose to browse either by side category or site search. Victoria’s Secret has managed to incorporate many of the features on its full site to its mobile site in a way that doesn’t discourage or impede users.

Keyword: “Watch”

So far, it’s the only highly-ranked mobile site for this popular keyword. Big brands like Rolex and TAG Heuer are likely losing smartphone traffic on their mobile unfriendly sites. Fossil’s mobile site is compelling with good layout and features. The only thing I would change is putting a link to promotional offers at the top of the page, so no scrolling is required to see it.

Not a mobile site, but a good case study in mobile usability. It’s interesting to note that while a laptop user might prefer shopping a site with a more unique and stylish layout like that of other high-ranking watch sites (, for example), a mobile user will prefer ease of use and fast loading times. loads fairly quickly and has no sluggish images or other media to slow the mobile user down. Its menus are large and prominent, and the left sidebar of watch brands is a useful navigation tools.

Keyword: “Jeans”

Diesel is all about appealing to trendy, mobile-savvy youth, so it’s not surprising to see that they have a cool layout and unique features on its mobile homepage. My favorite part is the link to the “Be Stupid” page showing a gallery of their amusing advertisements. Most of them feature hipsters in Diesel gear doing unwise things with captions that could have been written by Stephen Colbert: “Smart listens to the head. Stupid listens to the heart.” The downside to this site is that it links the user back to the full site to shop, which is always an irritating experience.

This is not a mobile site, but it shows that not all image-heavy traditional sites with complex navigation are unusable on mobile phones. While I much prefer browsing the catalog at Diesel’s mobile, Levis is manageable thanks to the specific navigation options on the left sidebar. The center column images serve as both product images and in-house advertising, and they serve to add an artistic element. The scrawled text is pretty cool, too.

This non-mobile site would be fairly manageable if it weren’t for the big black-and-white image that slows down the loading process. I bet traditional site users would not be harmed at all if this image was much smaller, and mobile users would certainly benefit.

Keyword: “Auto parts”

I was excited to see that there was an auto parts shopping tool for the mobile web. Unfortunately, click on the “Find Parts” link and you’ll see it’s still “Coming Soon.” However, here’s a good example of a busy mobile layout that still looks attractive. One awesome feature here is mobile video. A large part of mobile viewership is bored users looking for ways to kill some time for a few minutes. Mobile video is a great way to give these wandering eyeballs something to look at.

Keyword: “Bicycles”

We’ve featured this company’s mobile site before as a good example of the mobile web. This is definitely the best mobile site right now for this keyword that I’ve seen, and users can see how Trek is using the site as more of a customer acquisition tool than as a shopping site. It could be that many customers would not be interested in using their mobile devices to buy expensive bikes. However, they can use it for product research, looking up full specifications on all Trek’s bikes in an easy-to-use attractive layout. Putting contact information on the main page would be a good addition.


There were many popular keywords, including jewelry, gifts and pet supplies that yielded no usable mobile sites. This shows how much potential traffic is being lost when merchants are not prepared for mobile users. Even some large brand names that produce top-selling products create sites that few smartphone users would want to browse, at least until they returned home to their desktops. What a good opportunity for a smaller merchant to start offering a better mobile user experience.

Brendan Gibbons
Brendan Gibbons
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