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Google Goes Mobile-First: Is Your eCommerce Store Ready for July 5th?

In case you’re still not convinced that the majority of shoppers are browsing your eCommerce store and placing orders on their mobile devices, an upcoming Google update is sure to be a wake-up call.  While this update is important in its context, store owners need to understand what types of stores and websites it will impact and what action you should be taking right away even if your site is considered “safe.”

First, let’s talk about the update itself.  Google recently announced an update to its indexing process whereby after July 5, 2024, websites that do not load on mobile devices will no longer be indexed.  This means sites that won’t load on an iPhone or Android phone will disappear from search results.

This announcement has led to a lot of confusion, and rightfully so.  The biggest question that immediately surfaced was, “My site is not responsive or mobile-friendly, will it be delisted?”  Simply put, the answer is no.  Google’s update is targeting a small number of websites that simply won’t load at all on mobile devices.  Yes, it’s pretty hard to believe in 2024 that there are sites out there that are so old they won’t load on mobile, but apparently they do exist!

If your eCommerce store or website is still serving up a desktop version for mobile users, you’re safe…for now.  However, you’re certainly not following best practices and not adhering to Google’s “mobile-first indexing” initiative that has been in the works for several years.  For the vast majority of eCommerce websites already built with responsive design principles, congratulations, you’re a step ahead!

Let’s dive deeper into what this means for eCommerce store owners and how to ensure your online business remains visible in a mobile-first world.

Understanding Mobile-First Indexing

Traditionally, Google used desktop versions of websites for indexing and ranking purposes. However, with the explosion of mobile internet usage, Google recognized the need to prioritize mobile-friendliness. In 2016, they began a gradual shift towards “mobile-first indexing,” where the mobile version of a website becomes the primary version used for ranking and indexing.

After July 5th, Google will exclusively use its mobile crawler to index all websites. If your website cannot be loaded by Google’s mobile crawler, Google won’t be able to understand or process it effectively, leading to its exclusion from mobile search results.  Again, this will impact a small number of websites and as long as your site loads in a mobile browser, you’re safe.

Why is Mobile-First Indexing Important for eCommerce?

Think about your own shopping habits. How often do you browse for products on your phone versus your desktop computer? The answer, for most people, is likely “very often.” In fact, statistics show that mobile commerce now accounts for a significant portion of all online sales. Google’s mobile-first indexing reflects this reality.

If your eCommerce store isn’t mobile-friendly, you’re essentially shutting out a massive segment of potential customers. They won’t be able to find your products easily through mobile search, significantly limiting your ability to reach new audiences and drive sales.

Signs Your eCommerce Store Needs a Mobile Makeover

Here are some telltale signs that your eCommerce store might not be mobile-friendly:

  • Pinched zooming: Users have to zoom in excessively to read text, view product images, or complete the checkout process.
  • Horizontal scrolling: Content spills over to the side, requiring users to scroll horizontally to navigate the site.
  • Unclickable buttons: Buttons are too small or too close together, making it difficult to interact with the site on a mobile screen.
  • Slow loading times: The website takes a long time to load on mobile devices, frustrating users and prompting them to bounce.
  • Designed for desktop: Your website was originally designed for desktop users and has not had any significant updates to allow for mobile compatibility.

If any of those describe your eCommerce store, it’s time to give us the opportunity to discuss how we can update your old, outdated website to be aligned with Google’s mobile-first strategy.

Making Your eCommerce Store Mobile-Friendly

The good news is that making your online store mobile-friendly isn’t hard, and it all starts with a fresh, new responsive design. This is the gold standard for all websites. A responsive design automatically adjusts the layout and content to fit the screen size of any device, whether it’s a desktop computer, tablet, or smartphone.

But design is one thing, the User Experience (UX) has to be aligned as well and this is done by making menus and navigation bars easy to tap and use on a small screens; optimizing the website for speed by reducing the amount of 3rd party code, cutting down on unnecessary features that may look great on desktop but serve no purpose for mobile users; and optimizing images while keeping them crisp and clear.

Of course, you can’t forget the checkout.  The most important part of the mobile shopping experience needs to be streamlined, with minimal steps that make it easy for shoppers to complete their purchase.   Today’s eCommerce platforms, such as BigCommerce and Shopify, recommend using a one-page checkout to make the process quick and easy.  After all, the goal is to get the sale without making the shopper jump through hoops to check out.

Let’s Discuss How We Can Help!

Google’s mobile-first indexing is not a surprise. It’s a natural evolution reflecting the dominance of mobile browsing. For most eCommerce store owners, this shouldn’t be a cause for alarm as the great majority have already upgraded their stores to be mobile-friendly. However, it does serve as a crucial reminder to those who haven’t embraced mobile-friendliness to prioritize it, especially as we begin to inch closer and closer to the upcoming holiday season.

If your store isn’t optimized for mobile devices, take action now to ensure you don’t get left behind in the mobile-first future. By embracing responsive design, optimizing for speed and UX, you can transform your ecommerce store into a mobile powerhouse, ready to capture the ever-growing market of mobile shoppers.

Remember, it’s not just about Google – it’s about creating a seamless shopping experience for your customers, wherever they are and whatever device they use. Contact us today at support@yourstorewizards.com to discuss how we can optimize your eCommerce store for a mobile-first world.

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