April 2015 Newsletter

**** The 4specs Perspective

How Important are Smartphones and Google Results

[I am backing off my stance about the non-importance of smart phones for building product manufacturers - several manufacturers said they had a relatively high percentage of smart phone usage they believed was contractor related - Colin]

Earlier last month (March 2015), several articles projected that Google was going to increase rankings for websites that were mobile friendly. I started to think what would be required to make 4specs work better on iPhones and Android phones. Your web consultants may be saying the same to you.

Google has been sending notifications to webmasters with sites that are not mobile friendly. Is this a sign of a new mobile algorithm coming soon?
https://searchengineland.com/google-sending-mobile-usability-warnings-huge-number-webmasters-213113

Google Search Algorithm Mobile Flag Changes on April 21st, 2015 - "This means if your site isn't Mobile Friendly it may VANISH from Mobile Searches."
https://www.prlog.org/12435947-google-search-algorithm-mobile-flag-changes-on-april-21st-2015.html

Here is how to do a quick evaluation of how your site performs - according to Google:
https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly

https://developers.google.com/search/mobile-sites/get-started

Reading the fine print, it turns out that the algorithm changes will only affect mobile searches and not desktop searches. Google's assumption is that in the future over 50% of the searches will come from mobile devices. A great example of a mobile search is leaving a baseball stadium and looking for a pizza place several blocks away to minimize the after-game rush.

4specs has about 20% of the total inbound traffic rated as mobile devices according to Google Analytics. 30% of the 20% is iPhones (6% of the total referrals), 30% is iPad (again 6%) and the rest is mixed phone and tablet users.

The questions I have to ask is "can a phone sized device be used usefully for commercial and institutional design purposes? What useful information can be accessed from a smart phone?"

A manufacturer of residential products with an ecommerce site certainly needs that site to be mobile friendly. However, most consumers will turn to their local Home Depot or Lowes store for most products the need to buy or research and advice.

Google is apparently combining iPhone and iPad searches under the same criteria. Based on Google Analytics for 4specs, Google sometimes combines iPads and other tablets into mobile and sometimes not. I propose that Google needs to apply the updated algorithms to phone-sized devices and use the desktop algorithm for tablets.

Most manufacturer's website will work well on iPads (assuming they do not use flash images and navigation) and on Android tablets with no changes. I ask - how important is iPhone and Android phone usage to your business? Think about it before jumping and redoing your website.

Colin

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Colin Gilboy
Publisher - 4specs
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