Two Important Google Changes Every Online Merchant Needs to Know for 2017

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017
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Announcement #1: If you missed it, last November, Google announced mobile first indexing. Mobile internet usage had been gaining on desktop usage for years, and finally in 2016 mobile & tablet usage passed desktop usage worldwide.  Most web searches are performed on mobile and tablet devices.  Thus, Google decided it was appropriate respond in kind in several ways. One way was to begin evaluating pages based on their displays of mobile content (and other factors), rather than primarily on desktop content. Specifically, Google said it would “use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site, to understand structured data, and to show snippets from those pages in our results”.

Announcement #2: Google also announced that starting January 10, 2017 it would penalize websites for obstructing content when a user transitions to the site from a search engine results page.  Think large pop up ads, popups that request shoppers’ email addresses for newsletter signups, or even popups that advertise discounts.  But don’t fret if you are attached to your popups! If you follow certain size guidelines for your popup, you can avoid penalty. The link above shows you examples of what does and does not qualify as an obstruction.  Also, our winery, distillery, and brewery clients should note that age verification gateways will not be penalized.

What are the implications of these announcement for online merchants?

First, check to see if your site is mobile friendly according to Google.  If you have not turned on the mobile friendly version of your store, talk to your account manager about turning this on!

Check your mobile site for popups and remove them or change their size. You can continue to use popups your mobile site, but they cannot be an immediate obstruction to a shopper coming from a search engine page.

Think mobile!  Although more shopping conversions still occur on desktop formats, acknowledge the fact that your traffic may experience your brand frequently from a mobile device, and your mobile experience may be your prospective customer’s first experience with you. From that initial experience, customers will decide whether or not they want to purchase from you, or allow you to market to them and start a relationship with your brand.

Nobody puts mobile in a corner.

Lanette Willis is a Senior Account Manager at Nexternal. Before joining Nexternal she spent nearly a decade working in market research and professional services marketing, before running her own successful eCommerce apparel business. Lanette is passionate about helping people and businesses thrive.