On April 21, sites’ rankings on mobile search engine results pages (SERPs) will be significantly impacted (some favorably, many others not so much) by the mobile-friendliness of the website.
With smartphone penetration growing to 76% in the United States, and mobile e-commerce accounting for 27% of retailer’s sales, Google wants to make it easier for users to access websites that are optimized for the device they’re using.
There have been plenty of articles, tools and tips about how to survive “mobilegeddon,” but how will this change impact digital marketing channels, such as affiliate marketing, that rely on partnerships with other websites to drive revenue?
The checklist below will act as a guide to ensure that you, your networks and your affiliate partners are ready for this change.
Are You Ready?
First, make sure your website meets the mobile standards. This is very simple to do — Google has created a mobile-friendly test that analyzes your website and reports back on whether it passes or doesn’t. This test also provides suggestions to improve the mobile readiness of your website if it doesn’t pass muster.
Review your website’s current mobile performance in your analytics and reports. To be considered mobile ready, Google has said your website should:
- Avoid software that is not common on mobile devices, like Flash
- Use text that is readable without zooming
- Size content to the screen so users don’t have to scroll horizontally or zoom
- Place links far enough apart so that the correct one can be easily tapped
Some of the suggested changes may be simple to make, while others will take more time. The good news is if you are penalized in the rankings for not meeting criteria, this is not a permanent mark.
The algorithm runs in real time and will notice when the changes are made, correcting the listings accordingly. In addition, the algorithm works on the page level, not the website level, so if certain pages are optimized while others are not, only the pages requiring work will be demoted in ranking.
Need a great brand’s site to check out as an example? Steve Madden (disclosure: Steve Madden is a client) saw a significant spike in both affiliate sales and traffic coming from mobile devices in 2014. These shifts helped prepare them for the “new normal,” and through careful planning, testing and tracking on their mobile site, they’re not only prepared but excited for the new rankings metric.
Is Your Affiliate Network Ready?
Do you know what percentage of your affiliate sales are coming from mobile devices? Is your network tracking your mobile transactions? If you are unsure, now is the time to find out.
If you have a separate mobile website, you must integrate tracking specifically on the mobile site. Ability to recognize and redirect a mobile user to the mobile site (or mobile optimized site) is important. And, as not every mobile user intends to arrive on the homepage, the ability to send a user requesting a non-mobile deep link URL to the equivalent URL on the mobile site will help drive conversion.
Ask if your affiliate network has the ability to track app downloads and in-app purchases, as this reporting will become increasingly important with the new Google rules. Cross-device tracking company Deep Forest Media (a division of Rakuten Marketing, my employer) anticipates that advertisers that are built for mobile will see a significant uplift in discover-ability and conversions.
Are Your Publishers Ready?
The rise of mobile commerce has introduced countless new opportunities for affiliate publishers. Their ability to geo-target and leverage smartphone and tablet technologies to engage with consumers has not gone unnoticed by the large retail players.
Some mobile publishers have perfected the hosted cart and curated product technologies and are a shoo-in for great mobile rankings come April 21. If you’re not already working with mobile-specific publishers, now is an excellent time to start adding them to your program.
Other publishers that aren’t mobile-centric should ensure their site meets the criteria listed above in Google’s test. After all, a mobile visitor’s ability to find your publishers’ sites listed in the search results can be just as important as their ability to find yours. Publishers should utilize standard mobile ad sizes, mobile-optimized links and optimize their site to match user intent and behavior.
Google has said this new ranking will have a “significant impact” on mobile search results, and we should expect this change to make waves.
Though we have just a few days left until we’ll truly know how and which sites are either penalized or awarded as a result, there is still time to start on the checklist above and put your mind at ease.
Source: Marketing Land