Review of Usablenet for Mobile SEO

posted September 15th, 2011

I was surprised in June when Mashable ran a piece by Usablenet VP Jason Taylor on Mobile SEO. For one because Mashable doesn’t really talk about mobile SEO, so it was good to see a mainstream digital publication talk about something that is more of a niche within the niche of search marketing. But it was also surprising because in my experience sites that run on Usablenet’s platform are some of the worst optimized sites out there.

Take, for example, which is a Usablenet site and one that a Usablenet representative mentioned to me in a call a few years ago as being a satisfied client. When I looked at the number of pages indexed in Google, the total is three; and two of those are error pages. For non-SEO people this means there aren’t many pages available to compete for relevant queries. What’s more, the title tags are branded, so Amtrak isn’t even attempting to let the engines know that their site is relevant for anything other than their brand. This is likely to result in primarily branded traffic, if they get any at all.

amtrak google


Sure enough, when I used SEMRush to check the overall health of, I found that all of the organic traffic that they get is branded, and they’re not even ranking first for the navigational term [amtrak mobile].

Likewise, Staples’ mobile site, which Taylor highlighted as a Usablenet client that follows two of his three tips for better mobile SEO, is only ranking for four keywords that aren’t navigational in nature, and those are long-tail queries with a combined total of 27 searches per month.

usablenet mobile seo

By any definition these sites are not optimized for search traffic, let alone optimized for search traffic from mobile devices. It’s not that Taylor gives bad advice in the Mashable article (though it’s really too vague to be useful). It’s that there are some inherent flaws in the Usablenet platform that prevent content from being properly indexed and ranked.

There are some brands that use Usablenet’s platform in spite of its shortcomings. If you find yourself in this predicament, don’t assume that your content is search-friendly just because a Usablenet VP wrote an article on the subject on Mashable. Follow these three tips from a recent article I wrote for Search Marketing Standard to make your Usablenet content a little more search-friendly, though still not completely optimized for mobile search, I’m afraid.

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4 Responses to “Review of Usablenet for Mobile SEO”

  1. Interested in your views on – platform from the Mobileweb Company has been developed with optimisation for mobile devices and search discovery placed at the forefront. In the case of the 118 solution some 8m pages have been created, optimised, indexed and disseminated for search discovery. I believe mobileweb Company to be world leaders in their approach. Their focus is on brands with branch networks and/or extensive product portfolios, bonus is their solution can be deployed in a matter of a few days for any organisation.

  2. Go Murray says:

    I found your article while on my iPhone searching for ‘useablenet platform’. I was attempting to solve an error problem so that I could access ANY page on my LA Metro app. This is the go to app for ALL of Los Angeles’ bus service, a critical addition to the portfolio of a public service for citizens AWAY from an office, concerned with MOBILITY. Alas, the only page that was not reading this ‘error’ message was the main menu. Not a single branch worked to point me to anything but a blank page with the phrase ‘ useablenet platform’ at the top. 2 great moments here. 1.) I learned that useablenet is a company employed by thee most classicly burreaucratic and slow flexing companies/services. This should be a dead giveaway for significant lobbyists doing a great job securing lengthy and iritractible contracts. Or, as my Dad– Generals aid, an engineer, and a successful businessman always put, “that’s your government in action again.”. 2.) I will forever be branded with the original notion that, ‘useablenet platform’ is just an error code.

  3. greggy says:

    this article is nonsense

    google shows full site results on mobile searches

    if you have a mobile site, just make sure it redirects to the corresponding page.

    that’s all folks

    don’t beleive any of the garbage these seo bloggers are writing about.

  4. I think you’re commenting on the wrong article, “Greggy”. This article is about Usablenet, and how Usablenet properties don’t typically get indexed properly in Google so they aren’t visible when people search for them. It’s fully supported by Google data and ranking data from SEMRush. Nothing nonsensical about it.

    Actually if you have a mobile site it might be properly redirected but if it doesn’t address what your users are interested in no one will find it in search. Also, Google shows both mobile sites and full sites in search results, as they’ve said before on numerous occasions.

    Any idiot can say anything on the Internet, folks, but smart marketers don’t have to believe everything they read. Especially when it’s written by trolls who pop in to give their uneducated opinions without attempting to contribute to the community.