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Online retailers unprepared for change to mobile search

Online retailers are unprepared for the introduction of Google’s mobile first index. If it launched today, it would be a disaster, according to digital marketing innovator and CEO of StewArt Media, Jim Stewart.

“If you have an m-dot site and a desktop site with a lot more content on it, you will lose that content. The m-dot site is going to get all the Googlebot traffic once this transition happens,” Stewart explained.

Google compiles its index using bots, which create a catalog of webpages, including the words on a page and where they are located. The search engine giant uses the information to provide results to searches.

Google announced last year that it was shifting from a single index for queries on both mobile and desktop devices to a mobile first index. While the company said it would maintain a separate desktop search index, it would not be as up-to-date as the mobile one.

Google recently revisited the topic of the mobile first index at an event, indicating that it is in a testing phase. And although no date for the transition has been set, Stewart believes the launch will occur next year. He warns that many major retailers are unprepared for it.

“All that will be on the index after this time will be what is on mobile versions of your website,” he said.

“Many large corporations will lose out when this shift happens. Myer has 185,000 pages on its mobile site and 391,000 on its desktop site. If Google’s announcement was actioned today, Myer would lose over 50 per cent of its content indexed in Google.”

According to Stewart, the loss of these pages and the traffic they bring would have a much bigger impact on the department store chain than the arrival of Amazon.

“If big brands like Myer don’t prioritise Mobile First, they could lose a lot more in traffic and sales than Amazon’s arrival could affect,” he said.

Here are some of Australia’s biggest losers ranked:

  • 99 per cent of indexed pages would be lost
  • Bupa: 99 per cent of indexed pages would be lost
  • Huggies: 99 per cent of indexed pages would be lost
  • ASX: 94 per cent of indexed pages would be lost
  • NewsCorp: 90 per cent of indexed pages on all local news sites would be lost
  • Huffington Post Australia 83 per cent of indexed pages would be lost
  • Victorian Government: 80 per cent of indexed pages would be lost
  • Bendigo Bank: 76 per cent of indexed pages would be lost
  • Ticketmaster: 74 per cent of indexed pages would be lost
  • eBay: 73 per cent of indexed pages would be lost
  • Wikipedia: 48 per cent of indexed pages globally would be lost


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