Mobile SEO Risks Force Brands To Comply With Google Changes

Apple, CVS Caremark, Costco Wholesale and others are ill-prepared to take on changes Google will make to its mobile search algorithm. In fact, only six of the Fortune 100 companies comply.

The Pure Oxygen Labs study -- Mobile SEO Risk Assessment of the Top 100 Fortune 500 Companies -- identifies only 26% of Fortune 100 sites that adequately redirect smartphone searchers to deep pages within their mobile sites. Walmart, CVS and Home Depot, for example, each use mobile sites designed to connect their customers to mobile-optimized pages, but all lack proper mobile metatags and routing signals that Google requires.

About two-thirds risk ranking downgrades in Google for not serving mobile versions of indexed pages; one-third serve deep mobile content, but only 6% comply with Google's requirement. Some -- like Disney, GE, Humana, JP Morgan and HCA Healthcare -- appear well-positioned for Google’s mobile SEO changes, according to the report.

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Pure Oxygen Labs CEO Brian Klais believes Google will likely roll out these changes in September or October, so he estimates brands have two to three summer months to comply with requirements. Those that delay implementing mobile optimization may run into problems when attempting to make code changes on their own site just prior to the 2013 holiday season.

Klais has not determined the lost revenue to brands from the delay, but points to data from Adobe Systems that suggests some retailers during the 2012 holiday season saw as much as 25% in mobile sales during last year's holiday shopping season.

Parks Associates estimates 48% of U.S. smartphone owners use apps for daily information and entertainment, while 15% use the phone to order food and 12% use it to shop for physical goods.

While more than half of the companies have mobile sites or use responsive design, only 56% serve any mobile-formatted content to smartphone searchers, according to Pure Oxygen's report. Some 45% serve smartphone searchers via a dedicated mobile site. Zero mobile sites comply with Google's mobile configuration requirements, and 11% target smartphone users via responsive design techniques.

Klais, the author of the report, believes mobile search visibility and transactions could decline significantly. This change will disrupt the rankings of all competitive mobile keyword markets, from general queries like "car insurance" to location-based searches, such as "Chicago pizza restaurant," to long-tail e-commerce queries, such as "LED Smart TV." He also suggests the possibility of some non-compliant brands finding their Web sites' ranking lower than others for brand-name queries.

1 comment about "Mobile SEO Risks Force Brands To Comply With Google Changes".
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  1. David Sparks from Just A Web Company, Inc., July 24, 2013 at 11:45 a.m.

    Klais -

    I think the take away is that mobile websites don't need to have a specific mobile version. They can you use standards compliant responsive web design and only have one website to maintain. This will help them achieve the SEO results they are looking for.

    The idea here is that websites become device agnostic and work across the board - that is the type of development and marketing strategies that Google is rewarding.

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