Felicity Long tells Forbes why the new Google Algorithm is a good thing for retailers

24/04/2015

Today’s Google algorithm update, which favours websites that work well on mobile devices, will send a warning shot to UK retailers and accelerate mobile adoption, according to leading digital marketing agencies.

Kirstie Holsworth Kirstie Holsworth New Business and Marketing Carat UK Forbes Felicity Long Google Algorithm
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The update, which will impact the search ranking for those sites not deemed to be mobile friendly, comes at a time when consumer spending on mobile devices is tipped to top L53bn a year by 2024.

For Felicity Long, head of digital at global media agency, Carat, not appearing when consumers are actively searching for products, is the equivalent of a retailer closing the front door to their offline stores.

“ If retail brands are not appearing because they are not mobile ready, consumers will not discover their products and ultimately purchase them , whether on or offline,” she said.  

As a result of the growth in gadgets, almost half (46%) of retailers claim at least some of their sales are generated through a mobile device, Barclays found. However, fewer than 3% think their business is at the cutting-edge when it comes to being mobile ready and two thirds (68%) have no plan of action for future investment in mobile.

That’s shortsighted, according to Long at Carat. “Although the traditional view is that search only drives e-commerce, this simply isn’t true which is why the impact of Google’s algorithm change could be so significant,” she said.

“We know that consumers are using search to discover products, find out about stores, find locations and compare pricing amongst other areas. Data gathered through CCS, our proprietary research tool that surveys 11,000 people and their media habits and attitudes, shows that 36% of consumers in the UK regularly use their mobile phone to compare prices when in store . Not being part of this journey is of great risk to retailers as consumer behaviour becomes increasingly mobile.

“Our CCS data also shows that 23% of consumers in the UK won’t visit sites that haven’t been optimised towards mobile , so Google’s move to drive a better experience on this platform is understandable. This will accelerate mobile adoption among retailers, which is a good thing,” said Long. ”However, my concern is that certainly in the short term this will disproportionately challenge smaller retailers.”

Kirstie Holsworth Kirstie Holsworth New Business and Marketing Carat UK Forbes Felicity Long Google Algorithm
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