Friend or Foe? How Google’s Mobile-Friendly Update Will Impact Retailers
Google released one of its most significant algorithm changes ever last Tuesday. This update has been dubbed "mobilegeddon" and "mopocalypse" for good reason: Google says the change will affect more sites than previous "huge" updates. Based on Pure Oxygen Labs' annual mobile search engine optimization scoring of the top 500 retailers, I believe this update will impact nearly every retailer, some dramatically. What can your brand do to maintain its organic search presence? Here are few tips.
Mobile Friendly: A New Relevance Signal
Last week's update is all about rewarding pages that have earned the "mobile friendly" label. This label is earned by addressing key mobile usability issues — e.g. does the page require pinching and zooming, does it make text easy to read, are buttons easy to click, etc. Since most retailers have had some sort of mobile presence for years now, one might assume retailers are ready for this update.
No Mobile Presence
Surprisingly, 14 percent of the top 500 had no mobile presence as of June 2014. Googe's update has these holdouts in its crosshairs. If you're one of these brands, prepare for the worst. As unthinkable as it sounds, there's a chance that your top pages may become less visible, even for brand queries, on mobile devices. After all, what Google is saying is that mobile-friendly pages are more relevant to mobile searchers.
Mobile URLs ("m-dots")
M-dot sites were still the most popular mobile strategy for retailers in 2014, but just having a mobile presence doesn't necessarily mean a site will earn Google's mobile-friendly label.
Does every desktop page have a mobile-equivalent version? For most retailers, the answer is no. Special promotional pages and faceted navigation pages often lack mobile equivalents. These desktop URLs will not likely earn the "mobile friendly" label, so they'll probably no longer drive mobile search traffic.