Mobile – The Great Big Google Hint

Andrew Birkitt

Lead Technical Engineer
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Reading Time: 3 minutes

Mobile is definitely going to be at the forefront of e-commerce over the coming year, with more and more people changing their phones to smartphones. The market has also seen a significant increase in the amount of people that are buying tablets as the market becomes more and more competitive. You can buy a fully functioning tablet for a little over £100 now.
A recent study in the US showed that 91% of US adults had mobile phones and 56% of those were smartphones.
In conducting our own study we looked at the traffic  from 15th February to 17th March last year and this year for some of our popular e-commerce clients and saw the following increases:

Niche Mobile Tablet
Clothing 52.21% 47.01%
Pets 151.18% 90.09%
Construction 406.86% 354.31%
Motor 117.59% 80.21%

Above is just a brief overview of a selection of sites, but it is clear how important mobile is becoming with all sites showing that there has been a significant increase in the mobile devices used to visit these sites in the same period last year. It also shows that this is the situation across a wide variety of industries, so now is the time to make sure your site is optimised to handle this type of traffic and make sure you aren’t missing out on potentially easy revenue.
Another interesting fact that highlights the increased use of mobile is when the Interactive Media Retail Group (IMRG) found that 23.3% (double the previous year) of online sales came from mobile devices in the second quarter of 2013 and a total of 34% of visits to ecommerce sites came via smartphones and tablets during the same period.
At SMX West last week Matt Cutts mentioned the fact that he wouldn’t be surprised if mobile search overtook desktop search in 2014 (Search Engine Land)
Responsive Design
The easiest way to make sure that your site is mobile compatible is to have the design made responsive, which means it will adjust its layout dependent on the size of the browser window. This work is usually quicker and cheaper than developing a dedicated mobile site. It is also easier to maintain and it benefits from any SEO work done on the site, without have to make a separate mobile SEO strategy.
Google has spoken more about mobile optimisation over the last year and how they are making changes to mobile ranking and search as a whole.
In a recent video Matt Cutts spoke about responsive design and its SEO impact. He said that responsive design won’t lose the SEO benefit, it will actually help it as there are less pitfalls as there is one URL for mobile and desktop browsers. He goes on to say that it is possible to get the setup wrong when implementing a mobile site and divide the page rank between the two URLs.

Optimise the overall speed of your site
In June last year there was even talk of mobile site receiving a penalty from Google if their pages are slow to load on a mobile device. Although this doesn’t appear to be entirely true Matt Cutts did do a video addressing the issue of site speed on mobiles and in general, later in 2013.
He says that page speed is a ranking factor especially if you and your competiton have sites of a similar level.  He also stated that mobile speed performance is something they may be looking deeper into as part of their algorithm in the future.

It is clear with the increase of mobile usage that it is important to make sure your site is mobile friendly and loads as quickly as possible, especially with mobile connections generally being slower than their desktop counterparts.
The Great Big Google Hint
Google have actually produced new speed guidelines to help web masters make sure their sites load as quickly as possible on mobile devices. You can find this advice here:
A Quick Win for a Responsive Site
With responsive design in mind it is essential that you start to consider how you can optimise your site for mobile. An overall improvement to your site can be to optimise the site speed which I demonstrated how you can go about this in my previous post here.
Mobile isn’t going away and to overlook this channel in your digital marketing strategy is a big mistake, there is traffic and conversion potential in this area so make sure your site is mobile optimised today. Start by checking whether your site is already responsive, load it on your mobiles and tablets or ask friends. You can also check this by running a free report on and it will show you a section on mobile performance. Remember more and more people are turning to their smartphones and tablets to find information and make purchases as they are more convenient than booting up the laptop or desktop. I often find myself on my iPad or checking email and doing research on my mobile rather than turning to my laptop.

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