How Mobile is Changing SEO
If merchants needed any more evidence of the increasing importance of optimizing their sites for mobile commerce, Google is about to weigh in in a big way.
Beginning April 21, Google is rolling out a "mobile friendly" update to its algorithm that the company says will have a "significant impact" on results for searches made on mobile devices. In an effort to give mobile users more useful search experiences, the new algorithm will give greater weight in its rankings to sites that are easy to navigate on mobile phones and tablets, such as those using responsive design principles.
Accordingly, less weight will be given to desktop-centric sites that can be frustrating to view on smaller screens, causing the rankings of those sites to drop. Though specifics about the changes haven't been released, experts suggest this is not just another Google update. Zineb Ait Bahajji from the Google Webmaster Trends team was quoted at Search Marketing Expo Munich as saying the new mobile-friendly algorithm will impact more sites than the Panda or Penguin algorithms.
A Big Deal
Ninety-four percent of people in the U.S. with smartphones search for local information on their phones, according to Google. Interestingly, 77 percent of mobile searches occur at home or at work, places where desktop computers are likely to be present.
How big a boost mobile-friendly sites will enjoy from the change, or how far sites will slide in Google's rankings if they don't live up to its new mobile standards all remain to be seen. After all, whether a site is mobile friendly will be just one of more than 200 criteria the search engine giant uses to rank sites by relevance.
However, with purchases made on mobile devices exploding, most merchants can't risk letting their sites become harder to find for billions of consumers. According to analysis of MarketLive's 2014 Performance Index data, consumers have embraced online shopping from their smartphones, boosting their spending by 125 percent across all product categories.