An e-commerce site with responsive design and fast load times on mobile will rank higher in Google search results.

Mobile is, at long last, getting its moment in the sun with Google.

“More than half of all searches are done on mobile,” Tim Kilroy, vice president of insight and analytics at search engine marketing firm Elite SEM, told attendees Friday at a workshop during the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition. “Mobile search is no longer the poor stepchild of desktop search. Mobile search is search.”

Kilroy, along with Kareen Balsam, director of e-commerce operations at mattress retailer Sleepy’s, spoke about the importance of mobile search engine optimization. Both said that in order for a retailer to maximize its SEO, it must have a website with responsive design that adapts to the device it is being viewed on.

“Responsive design provides a cohesive user experience,” Kilroy said. “Everything looks the same, feels the same. From a technical standpoint, there’s only one site; it’s all inside of one application.”

“A responsive site has a stacking approach versus a non-responsive site where the entire site scales down,” Balsam added. “If you have an improperly scaled-down asset, your users are going to think they should be able to zoom in, and they’ll be frustrated.”


A fast-loading site is important because Google factors load time into its search rankings and will penalize slow sites by pushing them lower in search results.

“Speed matters,” Kilroy said. “People are impatient. Google is impatient. If your mobile experience is slow, not only will it get a search-deprecation penalty, but you will also have a bad user experience, and nobody wants that. You have to pay attention to how quickly your site reacts.”

Internet Retailer sister site Mobile Strategies 360 publishes a weekly “Mobile Speedometer” report measuring how quickly websites load. The most recent report showed an average load time of 2.01 seconds for the retail sites tracked. View the latest Speedometer reports here.

Balsam recommends retailers spend time on their own sites just to make sure things are running as they should.


“You have to have all the devices in your office, and you have to be looking at them and you have to find the mistakes before your customer does,” she said.

There’s also the matter of localizing your site so that it shows up when shoppers look for products near their physical location.

Kilroy said 33% of all searches include local intent, meaning shoppers are looking for stuff around them.

“Putting your location into your metadescriptors (information below a search result) drives click-throughs because customers feel you’re local to them even if you’re not,” he said. “Putting location in title tags, making sure you’ve got your address on your site, those are basic pieces.”


Google has also begun indexing apps into its search results. Because of that, retailers with apps have to make sure their apps are search-engine optimized. Doing so isn’t complicated, but it is more labor intensive, Kilroy said.

“App store optimization is like doing SEO in the year 2000,” he said. “It’s all about keywords and making sure your app descriptions have keywords. You need to do a lot of trial and error. It’s a pretty manual process.”