Google's algorithm change does little to harm retail

Back in April when Google originally rolled out its search algorithm prioritizing mobile-friendly websites, things looked potentially dire for m-commerce. Two months later, new research shows that mobile-optimized pages are getting the top billing that was promised, but that hasn't rocked the boat as much as expected.

Over a six-week period, the new Moovweb study tracked how many results with the mobile-friendly tag came up for 1,000 searches for keywords across a variety of industries, including retail, healthcare, travel and others.

The study found that the top result was tagged as mobile-friendly 83 percent of the time, the top three were all mobile-friendly 81 percent of the time and overall 77 percent of the 10 results displayed on the first page received the mobile-friendly tag.

This is significant because being outside the top three results can cost mobile retailers as much as 90 percent of their visits. But as you work your way down the results, odds improve that sites without the mobile-friendly tag will show up. Compared to the No. 1 spot, results that ranked fifth showed 5 percent fewer mobile-friendly pages, while those in the tenth spot had 18 percent fewer.

So mobile-friendly pages are getting more of the coveted spots in Google's search results, but that doesn't appear to have caused any great shift. In fact, the mobile-friendliness of the first 10 results overall has remained constant at 77 percent since Moovweb began tracking on April 29th (one week after Google's algorithm change) and also even at 81 percent for the top three results.

Why is that? For one, Google gave businesses a nearly two-month notice before putting the change into effect, and clearly outlined the conditions sites needed to meet to avoid plummeting down the pecking order. By the time "mobilegeddon" actually came around, many businesses had already addressed whatever issues they might have had.

One bit of good news for retailers is that, as a group, they have the edge on other industries when it comes to optimizing their sites for mobile. Eighty percent of search results were mobile-friendly for retail keyword searches, compared to 77 percent for healthcare and just over 65 percent for transportation.

For more:
-See this Moovweb blog post

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Retale success indicates shift in mobile thinking
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Google, Target data shows mobile search ads drive in-store sales
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