With New Search Update, Google Makes Mobile Matter More Than Ever

Being ‘mobile-friendly’ will have a greater impact on discovery beginning in May — with in-store sales hanging in the balance.

In case any marketers still doubt the importance of thinking mobile-first: In May, Google will roll out an update to mobile search results that will rank sites that are not mobile-friendly even lower than before.

In other words, simply having a mobile presence no longer counts; any brand with a site not adequately optimized for mobile hurts its chances at discovery by searchers, which in turn means less foot traffic and potentially fewer sales.

In 2016, “near me” searches are skyrocketing, and a majority of brands report over 50 percent of their traffic coming from mobile, shining a light on the need for a local SEO strategy.

In fact, local is dominating search engine results pages, but with Google limiting mapped place results to a “three-pack” display, marketers need to do more with their SEO in order to be instantly visible — and visitable — for searchers.

As Erin Everhart, SEO Manager at Home Depot, stressed in her talk at last week’s Napa Summit, this requires a heightened awareness of map consistency. A business must ensure that information is consistent across every single place that a listing appears, and that it is optimized for keywords related to local searches. But now, brands won’t even make it to this point if their mobile site doesn’t go above and beyond.

“Everything is localized now… and especially on mobile,” Everhart said. “Everyone is looking for what’s going to be the closest thing near me, like restaurants, or coffee shops. These people are not looking to transact online.”

As such, marketers who haven’t already must update their mobile sites in advance of the May rollout, or risk losing out on all of the in-store sales benefits that discoverability in search confers.

View Google’s guide for building a mobile-friendly site, here.

About The Author
Lauryn Chamberlain Lauryn Chamberlain @laurynchamberla

Lauryn Chamberlain is the Associate Editor of A New York City based journalist, she specializes in stories related to retail, dining, hospitality, and travel.