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The New Google Algorithm Update: Part III: The Fast & Friendliest

Site SpeedMobile Quick

In our previous blogs covering the latest Google update, we stressed the importance of having a mobile-friendly site. “Mobile friendliness” is how Google now assess your webpages and assigns you a ranking for their search engine. If you want better placement on top pages, make sure your site looks and performs great on mobile.

But when you combine mobile friendliness with a fast site speed, that’s when you capture the true white whale of SEO – Mobile Quick.

Load Faster, Rank Higher

Google has gone on the record several times to say that the pages that load faster have an advantage in their rankings. Quick-draw websites benefit in mobile search rankings as well. And while the latest algorithm update (arriving on April 21st) focuses on mobile friendliness and responsive design, we fully expect Google to continue to refine their system for rewarding fast-loading websites.

You benefit with higher ranking in search results, and Google benefits when their users have the ability to quickly access the information they need. And Google knows they benefit because they take site speed very seriously.

How seriously? Well, in 2009, Google purposefully slowed their search engine down (potentially losing many of their own users) just to prove a point. That point was proven: A measurable percentage of Google searches went down when site speed slowed by merely a fraction of a second.

Other Research

Of course, Google’s research isn’t the only study to back up the importance of site speed. The Aberdeen Group discovered that a single-second delay of site loading resulted in 11% fewer page views and a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction for ecommerce sites. This is why Google cares about which pages it gives to its own users.

Website visitors, with thousands of other options at their fingertips, show no loyalty to a slow-loading site. The bad news is that impatience rules the internet. The good news is that improving your site speed helps both your search ranking and your customer satisfaction.

The Blame Game

It’s difficult to initially pinpoint what drags your site down in speed. One uncertainty is that your site may have problems with a certain web browser but not with others. And with mobile taking an increasing share of web traffic, you don’t even know what type of networks your visitors are using.

Fortunately, we do know areas that result in faster sites and are ripe for optimization. High-resolution images tend to be one such culprit when a site loads slowly. Compressing these files while maintaining quality may be just what you need.

An abundance of plugins or ads may also down webpages. Bulky coding or a slow host are two more factors to consider. Regardless of what takes the blame, speed up your website to reap the Google ranking rewards.

Optimize for the Future

With Google taking steps to punish both slow websites and sites that are unfriendly to mobile, it’s time to optimize your site in both areas. Dynamicweb has experience in speeding up all aspects of your site, from online marketing to ecommerce.

A fast site with responsive design for mobile gives you a better chance to rank higher and attract more visitors than your slower, immobile competitors. It’s like the old nursery rhyme goes… Jack be mobile, Jack be quick, Jack converts lots of website guests.

The New Google Algorithm Update: Part II: Gain a Mobile Advantage

Responsive DesignThe Mobile Class

In our previous blog, Part I of The Next Google Offensive, we detail Google’s plans and incentives for their new search algorithm update, scheduled for April 21st. The update punishes sites that are not considered “mobile-friendly” by hitting them where it hurts, right in the search rankings.

With the prevalence of mobile search, mobile research, and mobile commerce, Google’s new algorithm update is designed to ensure that its users receive a return of high-quality mobile experiences when using the search engine. Google even released an online test to see if your website is a friend or foe of mobile devices.

So what should you do to prepare your website, not just for the Google algorithm update, but for the brave mobile world at large?

Responsive Design

Optimize your site for tablets and smartphones with a Content Management System that offers full support for responsive design. Responsive design means that your content, both images and text, scale to fit the screen size and device of your website visitor. Your visitors get the same great web experience across multiple devices.

Google’s ranking algorithms favor responsive design to boost your search ranking as well as your website’s overall user experience. Test all your pages to make sure that they are mobile-friendly, so you outrank your competitors when the update hits.

Website vs Apps?

While some businesses benefit from having their own dedicated application, a mobile app is no replacement for a responsive website. Your website, not your app, is still the easiest way for a potential visitor or customer to find you through organic search. And when that person arrives, you want them to have a high-quality user experience. For your sake, for their sake, and for Google’s sake.

Whether or not you have an app, Google does punish the overall search ranking of your website if it performs poorly on mobile. Relying solely on having an app is a mistake. Apps have certain barriers that prevent downloads, such as the limited storage capacity on tablets and smartphones. Downloading an app also requires the user to have knowledge of the brand in the first place in addition to a commitment to actually installing the application.

Other Optimizations

In addition to optimizing your site for mobile, there are other ways to gain an SEO advantage as Google gears up for a new search algorithm update. For example, Google’s new update also punishes sites for doorway pages, so it’s best to get rid of these from your website to preserve a good search ranking.

Doorway pages are pages that all lead to the same destination and feature redundant information. The primary purpose of doorway pages is to trick search engines, and that doesn’t make Google very happy. If you have doorway pages, we recommend taking them down before April 21st before Google comes knocking.

A Little Help From My Mobile Friends

“Mobile friendly” is the key takeaway from the impending algorithm update. A responsive website helps Google help you. Of course, Dynamicweb’s own solution offers fully responsive design.  By delivering a great mobile experience, your site ranks higher, gets found easier, and boosts your traffic.

But before we end this blog series… we would be remiss if we didn’t bring up one more factor that Google takes into account when ranking your website for searches – and it’s something you could start working on right now to improve your SEO. Stay tuned for Part III of The New Google Algorithm Update.

The New Google Algorithm Update: Part I: Moving to Mobile

Google iPhoneLook Busy; Google’s Coming. E-businesses and site owners everywhere are in a panic because it’s time, once again, for an update to Google’s algorithms. And when the search giant updates, websites listen. A change in algorithms results in huge gains or losses in web traffic for a variety of sites. Google’s process isn’t random though. In the past, Google has changed how it ranks webpages in order to punish snail-paced loading times and diabolical “black hat” SEO techniques. But who’s the target this time? Sites that are “mobile unfriendly.” What Is Mobile Unfriendly?

  • Sites that don’t scale properly to different screen sizes.
  • Pages that feature tiny text.
  • Cramped elements.

All of these are antagonistic to mobile. Despite the continued rise of mobile use, there are still ecommerce sites of major businesses that don’t pass Google’s mobile-friendly criteria. And according to the search engine behemoth, enough is enough.

The Decree

Google announced that on April 21st, it would roll out new algorithm updates that push mobile-unfriendly websites down the search engine rankings. While these rankings explicitly affect searches initiated on mobile devices, speculation exists that being mobile unfriendly will eventually harm sites on all search results, including desktop. It’s important to understand that this makes sense from Google’s point of view.

Google’s objective is to deliver the best, most relevant sites to its users, including mobile users. A mobile-friendly site presented to mobile devices achieves that. And the new decree for a high-quality mobile experience extends to mobile searches made in all languages, in all countries, on all planets that use Google. Meanwhile, if your site is… immobile, you may get banished from your prime search ranking on page one down to the nether regions of page five or six. Google giveth, and Google taketh away.

Why the Emphasis on Mobile?

Google’s decision to focus on mobile for their latest algorithm update was not simply made on a whim. The search giant is using hard data to back up the continuing importance of mobile. Based on research on the continued growth of mobile, eMarketer estimated that US adults spent 23% more time using mobile devices per day in 2014 than in 2013.

Delivering a great mobile experience also follows the future needs of demographics. Research from the Pew Research Center breaks down the following percentages for smartphone ownership: ages 18 to 29 – 83%; ages 30 to 49 – 74%; ages 50 to 64 – 49%; and ages 65+ – 19%. As Generation Smartphone gets older, Google anticipates more and more traffic and searches coming from smartphones.

An Edict for Ecommerce

Google’s edict for mobile-friendliness also arises in response to the mobile ecommerce needs of both consumers and online sellers. From their own research, co-conducted with Nielsen, Google reports that consumers are spending in excess of 15 hours a week on research, and that research begins with a search engine. 93% of people who use their device for mobile ecommerce research eventually make a purchase. The conclusion is that consumers rely on their phones to find goods and services more than ever before. And that’s why Google finds a high-quality experience on mobile so important.

Searching for Answers?

If you’re getting googly eyes from the Google update, don’t panic. Dynamicweb is an expert in mobile. Whether your site is mobile-friendly or not (but especially if it’s not), you want to tune into Part II of our blog series on The New Google Algorithm Update. We detail how you and your site can comply with the new Google rules and gain a competitive advantage with mobile.

What Modern Art Teaches Us about eBusiness: Modernism and Web 2.0

yellow and black modern art abstract painting

Now that the responsive mobile platforms of Web 2.0 allow us to do almost anything from anywhere, it’s hard to remember a time when this technology was not at our fingertips. In a similar way, modern art changed the way we look at everything, including ourselves. This post highlights parallels between Web 2.0 and the history of modern. Why?  To deepen our understanding of Web 2.0 technologies and predict where they are headed. There are smart ways to leverage Web 2.0 design on your ecommerce website to take it out of the museum and make it as engaging as a modern masterpiece.

Lesson #1: Design Your Business like an Abstract Painting

Like modern abstract paintings, Web 2.0 principles are not built on real-world equivalents. Instead, they create user experiences that are especially designed and streamlined for the internet. For example, Britannica Online was the equivalent of physical encyclopedia books, while Wikipedia, its Web 2.0 progression, is an open source, dynamic, encyclopedia of all things that is unlike anything in the analog world.

  • The important lesson to learn here is that that procedures and practices in the analog world are not necessarily good on the web.

Often, exact real-world equivalents are clunky and confusing on websites. These functions are best reworked for the online ecosystem, and like an abstract painting, are defined on their own (virtual) terms.

For instance, submission form and email service requests online often go unanswered, making users feel like their service problems are being sent into a black hole. Instead, implement a faster web-based model of self-service such as an FAQ page, forum, or IM help line. Additionally, you can integrate your ERP into an online customer service center which allows customers to see their customers’ purchase history and product manuals.

Lesson #2: Celebrate Individual Creativity

Commentators often note the Internet’s ability to foster narcissism: Time magazine dubbed Millennials the “Me Generation.” On the flipside, however, Web 2.0 fosters a newfound appreciation for individual creativity. Just as modernism celebrates individual human emotion, Web 2.0’s user-generated content platforms allow individuals to share their thoughts, ideas, and artwork directly to their peers. Like the modern artists freed from old-world patronage systems, individuals are free to publish and publicize their own content without seeking establishment approval (blogging vs newspapers, YouTube vs film studios, streaming vs record labels, etc).  Amateur designers and content creators often go viral and gain mainstream attention without relying on traditional media channels.

Because unaffiliated users and their content have credibility on the internet, companies are better able to use word-of-mouth and social sharing to market and improve their products.

  • As an ebusiness owner, you should facilitate conversations between your users on third-party platforms or on your own site—you may be surprised by the ways your customers have individualized your products and made them their own.

Customer creativity also helps you bring greater value in the future as you develop and improve your product. Since creating and consuming flow into each other in the Web 2.0 world, the two-way conversation between companies and customers ultimately results in greater value for both parties.

 

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The Impulse for Ecommerce, pt. III: Harnessing Mobile Impulse Buys

shopping bags on mcommerce smartphone

Does mobile ecommerce encourage impulsive buying? The short answer is, “Yes!” Almost 1/5th of consumers believe their mobile devices increase their impulse purchases. And since we now know what impulse buying is, have identified who impulse buys most, and how website UX affects impulsive shoppers, let’s examine how smartphones and tablets increase m-commerce conversions by catering to impulse buyers.

More Triggers from M-commerce

For customers using mobile tech, their impulse to buy can be triggered by any experience they might be having with their surroundings or within the actual device, like email promotions or blog reviews. Impulse purchases on mobile still fall into the 4 categories of impulse buying that we examined in Part I—pure, reminder, suggestive, or planned—but on mobile there can be a wide variety of pathways to the same impulse. Ecommerce marketers benefit because m-commerce opens up and connects channels for discovery and buying. So how can we optimize conversion rates for impulse shoppers?

Why Impulse Shoppers Love Mobile

Half of all ecommerce site traffic now comes from mobile users, with 40% from smartphones and 10% from tablets. As stated above, a Rackspace survey found that 17% of consumers believed their mobile devices increased their impulse buying. Respondents cited how simple it was to browse and make a purchase and overall ease of use as the biggest reason for this increase.

Mobile impulse shopping may be strong because customers, now able to shop anywhere, are exposed to more products over time. As we learned in part I, the more products a customer sees, the higher their urge and likelihood to buy.

This is all great news for ecommerce sellers, who can count on a steady natural increase in mobile shopping and unplanned purchases, but only if your site is easy to use. Major sites are turning away from m-dot sites in favor of responsive mobile sites, which are speedy, SEO friendly, content-rich, and adaptive to both smartphones and tablets. Additionally, mobile-optimized menus and checkout processes work to improve mobile engagement and conversion.

Mobile-to-desktop shopping

Even though mobile encompasses half of ecommerce site traffic, shoppers abandon 97% of mobile carts. There are a variety of reasons for this, including security issues (59% of online shoppers are uncomfortable storing credit card information online), usability issues, and slow loading speeds.

So how are mobile shoppers impulse buying so much if they’re abandoning so many carts?

The answer: they browse on mobile and buy on desktop.

Customers use an average of 2.6 devices per transaction, meaning that mobile-to-desktop ecommerce is typical of m-commerce users. Here are a few ways to promote this type of buying:

  • Structure your mobile design for fast, easy browsing and navigation
  • Use category links and speedy search to give direction to impulse shoppers
  • Provide detailed product information and viewing on mobile
  • Make it easy to save items in an online cart/wish list, and finish the purchase on desktop (abandoned cart reminder emails also help bridge the gap)

Informed Impulse Buying—the Happy Medium?

Lastly, let’s consider mobile impulse purchases made in-store. Often, shoppers look on ecommerce sites while browsing in-store for research purposes. In fact, 62% of mobile shoppers say they perceive info gathered on mobile as more beneficial than in-store promotional literature.

For these customers who browse and buy on mobile while inside a store (in your store or a competitor’s store), mobile bridges the gap between exhaustive product research and impulse buying. Whether they are using your store as a showroom, checking your competitor’s prices, reading product reviews and ratings, or checking for out-of-stock items online, your ecommerce site should be prepared to answer all of their questions quickly: these are customers who want to buy now but get a great deal and product at the same time. Include a ratings and review section on each product page to help these m-commerce shoppers make an informed decision, and display exclusive offers like free shipping to assure them of the best possible price when the impulse buy.

Series Recap

To sum up what we learned in this series:

  • There are 4 main types of impulse buys – pure, reminder, suggestive, and planned
  • The more products and promotions a customer sees, the more likely they will buy on impulse
  • Category links and fast search encourage browsing for unplanned purchases
  • Impulse buyers love high quality websites and m-commerce
  • Appeal to customers’ impulses post-purchase, both online and in-store
  • Ecommerce and m-commerce allow consumers to make better-informed impulse decisions

 

Please leave any questions in the comment section and they will be answered.

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