How to Optimize your eCommerce Store Customer Experience for the Mobile-First Index

The following article is a guest submission written by Charlie Carpenter. Charlie is the co-founder and CEO of Kite. He is a mobile advocate with over ten years of industry experience. After working for large and small agencies for many years, he co-founded Kite; a software solution for print-on-demand, zero inventory merchandise, and personalised photo print goods. As well as an entrepreneur, Charlie is a seasoned product strategist with experience of various types of digital projects which include: Responsive and Adaptive Websites, Mobile & Tablet Apps, Hybrid Apps, Cross Platform App development. You can connect with Charlie on LinkedIn, and follow him on Twitter.

If you are interested in submitting a guest article to the Second To None blog, please send over your ideas to danielb@secondtonone.com

Mobile devices have become a ubiquitous aspect of American consumer culture. . They are the instant portal to the way we socialise, bank, communicate, entertain ourselves and, of course shop.

It’s no wonder then that as customer habits transitioned further towards mobile, Google answered. On the March 26th of 2018, Google announced that they were rolling out mobile-first indexing. Concurrently, search engine optimisation, or SEO, no longer simply relies on targeting data-specified keywords, but now takes into account user experience.

Google’s changes mean that customer journey mapping is vital to understanding behavioural patterns that eventually lead to conversion. The move to mobile is an integral part of these journeys. The reality is, if you want to be an digital leader, you cannot ignore the relationship between mobile device use and eCommerce optimization.

Retail MCommerce

The best eCommerce brands are completing mobile-first indexing when designing their digital brand experience. If your brand is hoping to provide this online experience, it is important to understand:

  1. How mobile-first indexing works
  2. How mobile-first indexing can impact your customer experience
  3. The 3 must-knows for optimizing your store for mobile-first indexing

How the Mobile-First Indexing works

To understand how the Mobile-First Index works, it’s first important to have a basic understanding of search engine indexing in general.

Indexing is the way in which a search engine collects, catalogues, stores and prioritises the vast sea of data on the internet. The best search engines do this in a way that helps users quickly access the most relevant information pertinent to their search.

What has changed with the shift to mobile?

In the past, Google had used the desktop versions of websites to index sites. This meant that if you were at all interested in optimising your web presence, you would have to pay close attention to the content on your desktop site.

Things have changed, however. According to this report by Statista, web traffic from mobile phones is set to reach 52.2% in 2018. It’s not hard to see why Google needs to incorporate this shift into their indexing strategy.

It’s important to note at this point that while the move to mobile indexing marks an important shift, it is a gradual one. Sites that are being moved over are notified by Google’s Search Console, thereafter they will see increased activity from the Smartphone GoogleBot. It’s not happening in one swoop or in a flurry of panic.

Having said that, the faster you can begin to adopt mobile-friendly optimisation methodology, the better. So what does this mean specifically for your site? What steps should you be taking to make sure that you are not left behind? Let’s dive in.

3 must-knows when optimising for Google’s Mobile-First Index

The basic first point is that your eCommerce store must be mobile-responsive, or have an optimised mobile version. In 2018, all eCommerce platforms provide responsive templates. If you’re working with a custom build, speak to your developers or consider switching.

  1. Google will continue to have ONE SINGLE INDEX.

The Mobile-First Index is not a separate framework. Mobile indexing is one aspect of Google ranking.It’s important to continue to pay attention to other ranking factors that have served you in the past while simultaneously taking into account this new focus.

 

 

The reality is that it’s harder to convert mobile customers because they’re surrounded by reasons not to stay. In fact, conversion rates of traditional devices (desktop computers and laptops) were about double their mobile counterparts in the first two quarters of this year. Don’t make your dial-up era site-loading speed one more reasons to turn away.

[To help you along, have a look at these tools such as Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) and The Accelerated Mobile Pages Project to improve your site speed]

In addition to creating a speedy site, remove all obstacles to conversion on your mobile site that you can. Remember that when it comes to the world of mobile, you are competing with a combination of digital and real-world distractions.

 

  • Prioritize mobile in your design

 

Of course, for an optimal user experience, you want your site to look good on a mobile device. The text should be readable. The colours should be appealing. But…

Design doesn’t stop with aesthetics. It’s important to channel Steve Jobs for this.

“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”  

Make sure that your mobile site is intuitive when it comes to navigation. Read through Google’s Webmaster Guidelines to make sure that your site is easy to find when they’re looking.

In conclusion…

Customers of all shapes and sizes want to shop whilst on the move. Not only do mobile users want to search for products, but they want to interact with content. The whole of your website must be optimised for a mobile customer experience – not just the storefront.

Kite offers print-on-demand solutions to eCommerce entrepreneurs. We plug into Shopify, which is leading the way for mobile-optimised eCommerce. Your buyers must have a seamless experience on any device they wish to use, and it’s important for industry players to appreciate this and take action. Shopify has done this, and other eCommerce platforms have also pushed ahead to help eCommerce environment adapt to mobile habits.


Second To None empowers customer-centric brands to deliver consistent, intentional and authentic consumer experiences.

We adeptly design and manage mystery shopping, compliance, engagement and voice of customer solutions grounded in strategic relevance, program integrity and actionable insights. Our solutions are developed on the basis of solid research and statistical science. We achieve success through a relentless focus on quality and innovation, consultative relationships and a talented team of professional associates.

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