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Affiliate Marketing : Effects of Google Mobile Friendly Algorithm Change

April 25, 2015
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"Mobilegeddon" that’s the new moniker coined by reporters and people from the industry for the latest algorithm change that Google announced. Some of them have even quoted to say that it spells the apocalypse or doom for a host of small and medium sized business, and the chances of being able to survive and compete would be difficult.

But what’s all the hue and cry about? Let me start by first breaking down the latest change in Google’s Algorithm to you.

Google has now made a change to the way it displays search engine results on mobile phones. As per their algorithm, they’re going to work out a higher preference aka better ranking for businesses that have their websites optimized to be displayed on a smaller device (read mobile or tablet). So let’s take an example, say I were to use my phone to search for a website that could offer groceries online. Let’s assume that there were two well known players that have an online grocery business; of which “” has their website optimized to be displayed on mobile or tablet devices, and the second one “” does not.

In this specific case since I was searching for an Online Grocery Store through my mobile device, Google will return a result with “” ranking over “” even if the latter might be ranking better for search that’s being conducted on a desktop.

This is a part of Google’s endeavor to ensure that their users are being provided with the best result possible, and that their experience always be exemplary regardless of the device they access Google with.

Here’s a look at what aspects or parameters Google gauges in order to determine whether your website is mobile friendly or not.

• The business needs to avoid software that is not common on mobile devices, like Flash

• The text being used should be readable without zooming

• The content on the website should contour perfectly 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

If you haven’t already addressed some of the above issues to ensure that your website is mobile friendly, then you most probably may have been penalized by the new algorithm. However there’s not much to worry about since this would be temporary; you can quickly augment and make necessary changes. The algorithm runs real time, so as soon as it detects the necessary changes, it will correct the listings accordingly. Google ran a Q&A session earlier and you can clear all your doubts here.

Another interesting thing to know is that the mobile penalty will only apply to a specific poorly optimized page and not the entire website. So for instance, if a website has 5 pages worth content and has only four optimized for mobile devices and one that isn’t, then Google will only penalize the one page that isn’t optimized to display well on a mobile device and not the entire website.

You can check the mobile friendliness of your website by going here. What you’re looking out for is getting a result saying “Awesome! This page is Mobile Friendly”

Mobile Friendly website test

The Importance Of Mobile In India

A lot of well know statistics and business based websites in India that blog about E-Commerce have spoken about how M-Commerce is slated to grow faster and much more than E-Commerce.

What is M-Commerce?

So far we’ve all been used to transacting online through our desktops. The convenience of the large screen and the mouse made it easy for users to sift through data and scroll through a range of options available on various e-stores.

Then entered in the Smartphones; as per reports in the emarketer, an independent market research company that provides individuals and businesses with trends, data and insight relating to digital marketing, media and commerce, India will be seeing tremendous growth in the number of Smartphones. As per their statistics, India will have around 200 Million Smartphones by 2016 and will be ranking as the second largest Smartphone market in the world.

Such is the popularity of users accessing the internet using their mobile phone that from an internet penetration of roughly around 300 Million, 174 million users are also accessing the internet using their Smartphone. This number is expected to rise and grow by 21% year on year and is pegged to hit 457 million by the year end 2019.

At the moment, mobile traffic accounts for 9 percent of the total internet traffic in India, and this number is also slated to rise up to 28 percent by the year end 2019.

The Move To Mobile.

Some of the larger E-Commerce players in India have been very vocal about their interest in shifting to mobile. Online giants like Flipkart, Myntra and Snapdeal have revealed how a majority of their transactions are coming in through mobile. Here’s a link that gives insight into the revenue that mobile is helping them drive, and estimates that they have made for the next year.

Flipkart & Myntra have also decided to shut down their website in order to completely focus on the experience being delivered through Mobile since a majority of their transactions and traffic are happening over the phone.

What happens to Affiliate Marketing?

Similar to how a business gets prepared to adapt and thrive when posed with change in either its internal or external environment, Affiliate Marketing and all its stakeholders need to conform to this change and consider measures that can help make them effective over mobile based devices. Affiliate Marketing can be extremely efficient when channeled through a mobile device since statistics display that a Smartphone user spends a significant percentage of their internet browsing time on product reviews, testimonials, comparisons and more.

Affiliate Networks:

If you’re an advertiser working or contemplating on working with an Affiliate Network such as Tyroo, Komli, Clickzoot, Resultrix, GroupM, it’s essential for you to check if they assist with mobile based tracking as well.

If you have a mobile based website for your business, which could be a separate website built specifically for mobile devices such as “”, it then becomes necessary to ensure that you have separate tracking codes placed on this website to be assured that Affiliate Tracking takes place seamlessly on your mobile site. Also, any deep link on your website needs to redirect to a similar deep link for the phone site.

If you’ve built your business website on a responsive theme then nothing additional needs to be done. The same codes will apply and the website will contour to the resolution of the device that it’s being opened on.

You can/should also check if your network has the necessary technology to track Mobile App Downloads. This should be for both Fallback Installs and Direct Installs. A fallback install is when a user is prompted the option of installing the mobile application, upon clicking on a URL for a product, if the user doesn’t already have it installed. A direct install is when the user installs the application directly on their Smartphone.

Also have a word with the network to figure out if they’re prepared to track all data across different mobile operating software and devices.

Publisher aka Affiliate

From a publisher perspective, it’s important to make sure that they’re also conforming to the new mobile search rules set up by Google. This check needs to be done since it’s not only important for your user to be able to find your business on mobile, but equally important for the user to be able to come across your publishers website.

Some Content Affiliates have tried making it a lot easier for their audience to engage with their content by creating dedicated mobile applications. One of them is Harsh Agrawal of Shout Me Loud; he has built a mobile application that users can use to receive updates about his content, and easily share when required.

There are also a set of content aggregator publishers that are making it easy for users to make product comparisons, and then based on the insight derived, make informed decisions. Most of these publishers have ensured that they have the necessary solutions in place to support mobile.

Conclusion: The change to mobile is something that Google is adapting to by getting website owners, people that are an important part of the search eco-system, to also adapt and evolve. Affiliate Marketing, or for that matter any other marketing channel, is going to continue to remain important for businesses given the benefits that it offers Merchants; what’s interesting to see will be the amount and type of creativity that goes into Affiliates competing with each other and make themselves preferred over another.


About the Author

Rahul Nair is an Affiliate Marketing Consultant and founder of Trackbox , an Affiliate Management & Tracking Software.


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