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Supermarkets at least not fallen victim to Google ‘mobilegeddon’

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Fears of ‘Mobilegeddon’ when Google changed its search algorithm on 21 April to make mobile-friendly websites appear at the top of the search list on mobile seem unfounded with research by search and content optimisation leader, Searchmetrics revealing that supermarket sites at least still perform really well on mobile search – with Tesco coming out way in front of all the others.

Searchmetrics compared the search performance of nine leading British supermarket websites¹ in desktop and mobile phone searches to assess the impact of the Google mobile-friendly update, the algorithm change designed to downgrade the mobile search rankings of those web pages not deemed to be user-friendly on mobile phone displays.

“When Google announced its mobile-friendly update, there was speculation about the major impact it could potentially have on brands. However, our analysis indicates that the effect has not been significant on the leading supermarket retail sites we included in the research. Probably because they made sure their sites were already well optimised for mobile phones,” explained Marcus Tober, CTO and founder of Searchmetrics. “It’s likely that some smaller sites who have not invested in the mobile user experience of their pages will have seen a drop in search performance and traffic from mobile phones.”

Tober also suggested that it was likely that Google will continue to adjust its algorithm for mobiles searches, making it important for online businesses to track the mobile search performance of their pages and continue into invest in the mobile user experience.

Searchmetrics analysed the search results for millions of search terms to calculate a Desktop Visibility score and a Mobile Visibility score for each of the supermarket sites in the study. These index scores, which are presented as metrics within Searchmetrics’ software, reflect how frequently sites appear in search results and how highly they rank.

As shown in the table underneath, Tesco performs best in both mobile and desktop searches with a mobile visibility score of 633,970 and a desktop visibility score of 607,450, over three times higher than the scores for second-placed Asda in both mobile and desktop searches.

“Research suggests that people don’t always use mobile phones to make the final purchase, but they do use them heavily to research products ahead of making a purchase via a desktop or laptop or by visiting a store. In many cases in-store customers might check product prices and offers on a competitive store website before making a purchase,” explained Tober. “So even if you are not selling through your website – as was the case in some of the supermarkets in our study – it could still be very important to have good visibility in mobile searches.”

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