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Here’s Why Google’s Mobile Rankings Matter
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Here’s Why Google’s Mobile Rankings Matter

The web’s transformation rewarded by Google’s new mobile ranking system keeps growing at an exponential rate. For those who missed the buzz, back in April 2015 Google announced a rollout of mobile rank boosting by the search engine for mobile-friendly results, a move that made total sense but alarmed brands who hadn’t optimised their sites for mobile but still expected to see results.

Research firm Gartner predicts by 2018, half of consumers in mature markets will use portable devices like smartphones for mobile payments, indicating mobile users’ increased security with sharing personal information online.

After Google’s announcement, Smashing Magazine conducted a study of the top 10,000 sites ranked by Alexa in the categories of news, e-commerce, tech, business and sports. A startling 4 out of 10 sites would be affected by the update because they weren’t mobile-optimised. The magazine repeated the study eight months later to gauge the implications of Google’s announcement. Here are the results:

Websites That Weren’t Mobile-Friendly Came on Board

A quarter of websites who had no mobile strategy before the Google announcement are now optimised for more devices. About 85 percent have gone mobile with responsive web design, while 11 percent chose adaptive design, and 4 percent used a separate web address for mobile.

E-Commerce Brands Are the Fastest Mobile Adopters

Out of the five categories studied, e-commerce sites were the fastest to move to mobile, with 31 percent of those who weren’t optimised quickly refocusing. The adoption raised the amount of the top e-commerce sites who had a mobile strategy from 58 percent to 71 percent from April to December 2015. E-commerce sales increased 3.5 percent in the first quarter of 2015 to reach a record $80 billion in the U.S., with online sales growing 14.5 percent year over year compared to total sales of 1.6 percent, Bloomberg Business reports. E-commerce business owners understand the significance of mobile transaction adoption.

News Publishers Embrace Apps

With data from mobile analytics firm Flurry conveying constant mobile app usage growth over the past seven years and a 58 percent increase in 2015, news publishers are giving their readers one-click access with news app creation. To begin with, only three out of ten news websites were not optimised for their mobile audience.

The Smashing study found that eight months later, publishers that had a responsive website saw a 530 percent increase in native apps created. One plausible explanation for this particular trend is the publishers’ interest in distribution and their belief that a native app will bring more visibility to their content.

Some Brands Still Don’t Care About Google

Despite Google’s big news in changes to mobile, 3 out of 10 websites retained their zero-mobile strategy. This means they probably won’t create apps anytime soon, predicts Smashing Magazine.

Rankings? Who Cares

A second look at the rankings eight months after the mobile change saw that not much changed in the Alexa rankings. It’s not that mobile doesn’t matter – it’s just the algorithm Alexa uses to determine rankings doesn’t differentiate between mobile and desktop. It’s best for companies to analyse their own data and glean insights there.

Google Caused Positive Change

Amid all the positive new approaches to mobile by some of the top ranked brands is another notable victory: average PageSpeed Insights by Google increased 3 percent, indicating more websites are speedier and work better on mobile than ever before. The studies serve as recommendations for all businesses to carefully think about the efficiency of their mobile presences, since Google’s next update may likely be related to mobile, too, as more actions are taken on smartphones.

Smashing Magazine suggests looking to the world’s most popular content management system, WordPress, to see what beneficial mobile responsive design updates might be important to examine. Also, brands should consider pre-registering a .app domain, since Google purchased exclusive rights to the top-level domain in 2015. If your brand has the potential for a helpful app that could be embraced, start thinking strategy now.

Need help with your mobile design and usability? Say hello here – we’d love to help.

This article has been tagged in: App, Google, Mobile

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