Are You Ready for Google’s Mobile Search Update?

Posted by Lisa Roberts at 9:03 am in Mobile

Just when you thought your mobile search tactics were safe, Google throws the industry another high fastball.

To ensure that mobile users are getting the most relevant and timely search results, the search engine behemoth recently announced a new mobile-friendly ranking algorithm, officially launching on April 21. According to Google, two important changes will be implemented in less than a month:

• Starting April 21, Google will expand its use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. “This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results.”

• Google has already started using information from indexed apps as a factor in ranking for signed-in users who have installed the app. “As a result, we may now surface content from indexed apps more prominently in search.”

This announcement should come as no surprise to search marketers, especially those in the retail world who know that mobile use, and especially mobile search, is the rising star and a significant part of the customer journey. Based on the results of our most recent consumer survey, it became clear very quickly that Internet search is the mobile shopper’s gateway to a retailer’s website.

Our survey reported that 73% of mobile shoppers get to a retailer’s website from a search engine, and more than 50% of the consumers surveyed reported that they start their mobile shopping journey by searching for a specific product. (Not to be outdone, email and social media are also key drivers of mobile traffic.) But clearly search engines are the first choice for most shoppers, which should make Google’s new mobile-friendly algorithm the number one priority for retailers in the next 2 weeks.

To help make the transition as seamless as possible for retailers, Google has provided a set of guidelines to ensure their mobile sites are up to par. The company also suggests checking out the following tools to make sure its Googlebot is accurately viewing mobile pages:

• Test a few pages using the Mobile-Friendly Test.

• Use your Webmaster Tools account to get a full list of mobile usability issues across your site using the Mobile Usability Report.

It goes without saying that giving shoppers a delightful and easy-to-use mobile experience is critical to achieving enhanced customer loyalty, and increasing engagement and conversion rates. When developing mobile search tactics, especially in light of the April 21 deadline, it is important to optimize your keyword strategy for the shopper in search of a specific product. Make sure you are delivering shoppers to pages that not only meet their product desires, but that also encourages them to stay and discover other products – if the product they land on isn’t quite right. See what our client, Urban Decay, has been doing to draw in mobile searchers and get them to stay.

Google likes to keep retailers and their search marketers on their toes, which isn’t always a bad thing. In this case, and according to the CEO of Audience Bloom, “Google wants its mobile users to be happy. It’s on you to get the job done.”


lisa roberts

Lisa Roberts is a 15-year Ecommerce vet who’s worked with technology innovators, including Edgecase, who are building real solutions for hard retailer problems. Her experience working inside a retailer, agency-side and vendor-side give her a unique perspective on how to innovate at the pace of consumer evolution while remaining focused on delivering proven results.

Follow Lisa Roberts on Twitter @lisadoesaustin

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