Google’s mobile search update could hit retailers hard
Through a special arrangement, what follows is an excerpt of an article from FierceRetail, an e-newsletter and website covering the latest retail technology news and analysis.
Google’s big search algorithm switch happened on Apr. 21, meaning mobile-friendly sites will enjoy the most searchability from mobile devices and retailers, especially small businesses without mobile-friendly sites, could take the biggest hit.
The new search algorithm was announced in February and will give higher rankings to sites that are mobile-friendly. For Google, that means sites are meeting five major criteria:
- Users don’t have to pinch and zoom to navigate;
- Incompatible software like Flash isn’t used;
- Text is large enough to read;
- Links and buttons are spaced out enough to be easily tapped, and;
Source: Google’s mobile-friendly test page
If your brand’s site meets all of those requirements, then you can relax. But according to research released by Somo last week, many major brands aren’t ready for "mobilegeddon" and will have to scramble to minimize the damage done to their traffic numbers. Based on Google’s own Mobile-Friendly Test tool, brands including American Apparel, Clairol, Versace and Cotton Traders were all set to be punished by the new algorithm.
And with Google accounting for so much search traffic, even major brands will take a hit. EBay lost 80 percent of its top rankings during the last algorithm update, and since the top spot in any search gets as many clicks as the next five combined, that’s a big loss.
But while all brands should be on the lookout for a drop in their rankings, Duda CEO Itai Sadan told Business Insider that small business owners could be the ones hit the hardest, since they are more likely to have missed the memo on the new searchability requirements.
Their dependence on local search results also makes them especially vulnerable because a drop in ranking among searches of, for example, coffee shops in San Francisco could result in a big drop in foot traffic.
"Google has always been about relevancy, and content is king," Mr. Sadan told Business Insider. "But that’s changing. Yes, they’re saying content is still extremely important, but user experience is just as important. It’s not sufficient to have all the right content. If people come to your site and the content is there but it’s not readable, that’s not good."
For now the algorithm change will only impact search results on phones, leaving tablet results unfazed. But considering that mobile now makes up about 60 percent of all digital traffic, retailers of all sizes should be ready to up their mobile game if their search ranking plummets in the coming days.
- Google’s mobile search update could hit retailers hard – FierceMobileRetail
- Finding more mobile-friendly search results – Google
- Google is making a giant change this week that could crush millions of small businesses – Business Insider
- Google Mobilegeddon is almost here – and brands aren’t paying attention – Somo
- Top 5 things B2B marketers should know about Google’s ‘Mopocalypse’ – FierceCMO
Is Google’s update of its mobile-friendly algorithm a big deal for retailers? At this point in the evolution of mobile commerce, how sophisticated do mobile retail websites need to be?