The Mobile Change Nobody Is Talking About

Hidden beneath the outcry of the SEO community was a big change Google made that wasn’t the new mobile algorithm. As usual, Google is thinking three steps ahead when it comes to the growth of mobile search traffic and on April 16 Google made an important announcement. Apps that haven’t been installed will now rank within mobile search results. Previously, only installed apps would rank within your mobile search results. This experience will only happen on Android devices along with Google Play apps for now.

Why is this change such a big deal? Google is quietly struggling with the drastic increase of mobile search. Real estate on a mobile device already limits the opportunity for Google to maximize ad space. Furthermore, Amazon has also been a thorn in its side by stealing e-commerce traffic, an issue that gave birth to Product Listing Ads. All of these factors are quite detrimental to Google’s bottom-line. This app indexing update was another attempt to combat Amazon and other major retailers. The issue at hand is user experience in mobile search.

Generally, mobile users convert at one-third the rate of desktop users overall and mobile shoppers convert 160 percent more often on sites optimized for smartphones. This is clearly the main reason for the new mobile algorithm. The sad truth is that even with a mobile-friendly website, conversion rates are still well below desktop traffic, a strong indicator of poor user experience. Google doesn’t want users to change their search habits from starting at Google to beginning their shopping journey at Amazon. Thus the reason for the app index update – it is an attempt to improve user experience for shoppers.

A great example of increased app UX is entering credit card information, which is one of the reasons conversion rates are lower on mobile. A loyal brand shopper that has downloaded an app would generally have this information stored within the app. Therefore, removing this barrier and others would theoretically increase conversion rates and provide Google shoppers with a better user experience. Beyond storing credit card information, a mobile app strategy needs to consider all the factors your customer needs for a better shopping experience with your brand. Google is heading in a direction that is optimal for its users and you have to find ways to cohesively fit your brand into Google’s vision of the customer journey. If app indexing provides the proper lift for Google, expect to see this rolled out globally as well as potentially including Apple apps. If that happens, SEO for apps will be the next major trend and this update was your warning.

Now that you have a mobile-friendly website, what is your app strategy and how does it fit within your SEO strategy?

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