Material Handling Websites and Google’s Mobile Algorithm Change

Matt is a strategic thinker who gets things done. When he's not on the phone with prospects, Matt enjoys golfing and spending time with his family in Rochester.

62.5% of websites tested are not mobile friendly.

Google’s algorithm change is coming to a small screen near you very soon. Yes, Material Handling Professionals, “Mobilegeddon,” as it has been dubbed in the digital marketing world, is upon us. While it may not have quite the impact of the Hollywood blockbuster Armageddon that saw Bruce Willis wrangling an asteroid away from the earth’s crust, this one does sound like it will pack a punch of it’s own and penetrate our atmosphere on a global scale, come April 21. The stark reality for the majority of Material Handlers is that their websites won’t conform to this change and the new standards and focus Google are placing on the mobile web browsing experience.

It’s always hard to anticipate the impact of these events (usually because we don’t hear about algorithm changes until after they have happened), so agencies and webmasters are waiting with baited breath to see and react to the fallout. Some suggest a “wait and see” approach and to not panic, while others are more fearful and anticipate a drop in mobile search result ranking for sites not passing Google’s mobile test. Taking this test is a recommended first step for any marketing manager or webmaster looking to stay current and avoid punishment.

At the end of the day the direction is clear…Google is maintaining its plight to reward websites that serve up great content and a good user experience. So, regardless of device or platform, businesses aligning solid content with an efficient user experience will rise to the top.

Mobile Trends Continue…..

Mobile search trends are not to be scoffed at. Industry analysts predicted the increasing usage of mobile devices surpassing desktop usage years before it inevitably came true in 2014. And here at Site-Seeker, over the last 5 years, we’ve witnessed the same observations across our entire client-base spanning many industries including material handling. So it comes as no surprise that Google is reacting to a trend that has been growing, now holds more weight, and will only multiply in power and popularity as time goes on. Those thinking they are not affected because their customers only browse or shop on desktops, may well be in for a double dose of “I told you so” in years to come.

Scrunch-ability…..

Responsive website template on multiple devices

We may or may not have coined the term “scrunch-ability” here at Site-Seeker, although my colleague Carl may well be staking claim to it when he reads this blog. In our language, scrunch-ability describes the process of the compression of a full website into a working, user friendly, simple mobile encounter that still provides the visitor with a functional and rewarding user experience. This process may, for example, be taking 3 or 4 columns of content and reducing it to one column for the mobile responsive site. Too many websites fail in this process when they render on a smartphone screen as seen in one of the following screenshots…

Scenario 1No mobile experience. The whole website is crammed onto a 3.5” screen and unless your fingers have tips like toothpicks, you’re not going to have much luck tapping on one of those buttons or navigation headings.

Scenario 2A poor mobile experience. An abbreviated site is shown here, but not well mapped out for a user and the website has become over-simplified and limiting in content, design and layout.

Are you in compliance?

A common question we field on this topic is “do my competitors have this mobile site issue or is it just me?” Any vested business owner is going to want to stay ahead and take an opportunity to separate themselves from their rivals. But the reality is that there’s still a great opportunity to distant your business from the competition. Some businesses have purposefully chosen not to pursue a mobile responsive website, while others may have been simply unaware of the issues involved. But Google’s Message this spring is more than enough reason to at least pause, listen and learn before taking action.

How do you stack up?

A simple study across various disciplines within Material Handling shows some interesting results that back the notion of a slow adoption rate.

Example A: A simple search term such as “lift trucks” returns a results page dominated by Lift Truck manufacturers in the material handling industry. A little digging and testing and we find 60% of the top 10 businesses in this sector have mobile sites that pass Google’s test and provide a good user experience.

Example B: A similar search term, but this time modified to serve up distributors result pages shows far fewer businesses in compliance with Google’s mobile website recommendations. After testing, only 30% of the top 10 businesses in this sector have mobile sites that pass Google’s test and provide a good user experience.

Example C: When searching for the term “Engineered Systems” some familiar names are served up in the results pages. But of those top 10 businesses, only 40% have a mobile friendly website that passes Google’s test.

Example D: When searching for the term “Material Handling Storage Solutions” only 20% of the top 10 businesses that show up in Google’s rankings have a mobile friendly user experience that passes the mobile test.

Conclusion…

Technology is great. We all consume it in gross amounts, indulging with the latest phone, tablet or watch. But these devices have changed our habits, our accessibility, and the way we live our lives. But what follows the personal use and engagement of technology is the business reaction and ramifications. We’ve seen the power of it with social media and now, on the eve of the mobile algorithm change, we’re about to bear witness to Google’s sensitivity to how the world of search has shifted away from office browsing on a desktop computer.

But it doesn’t stop here and it never will. Google are already serving up search results from content deep-linked in mobile apps, so the search engine experience is no longer just about what’s on your website.

The good news for Material Handlers is that there’s been a slow adoption rate of mobile responsive sites, so it’s not too late to start the process of effectively connecting with your customers in the way they now search the web.