Is the Google Mobile Algorithm Killing You, Too? - Ecommerce Forums
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Thread: Is the Google Mobile Algorithm Killing You, Too?

  1. #1

    Is the Google Mobile Algorithm Killing You, Too?

    We just got hit with about a 20% loss in traffic due to the Google Mobile-Friendly Algorithm update. Although our site looks great on mobile and we have virtually no complaints, it doesn't fit the mold that "Google" (said with extreme sarcasm) wants. We just had our site redesigned less than a year ago, and I was damned if I was going to have Google make me fork out thousands of dollars for another redesign just so we could conform to their BS requirements.

    So, I decided to turn on the Volusion mobile site to see if it would impact sales. After everyone experienced so many problems with it, I vowed never to do this. There's no search function and it renders HTML bullet lists in a really screwed up way. But, it passes Google's mobile friendly test. I hoped that maybe Volusion had worked out the kinks by now and it wouldn't be serving up duplicate content as it had in the past. Well, I just started getting notices in Google Analytics that say we have "Multiple Homepage URLs - your website is receiving hits from multiple pages that might serve the same content." It looks like Volusion never fixed the duplicate content issue, so I have now turned off Volusion mobile and am stuck with a bad dilemma. I can get penalized for not having a site that is mobile-friendly by Google's standards, or I can turn on the Volusion mobile and get penalized for having duplicate content. Either way, I am screwed unless I now pay to have a fully responsive site designed.

    My hatred for Google has now reached a point where I will not use their search engine at all and loathe even having to say their name. Is anyone else stuck in the same place we are?

    Mike R

  2. #2
    Nope. Exact opposite. We're being killed since I made the switch to responsive and at this point wish I hadn't done it. Our typical growth went way south and our sales have tanked.

    It's going to take a long time to recover what we've lost. $, traffic, rank in the SERPs, etc.

    I'm trying to decide if I have the patience/commitment to start over again or not.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by GGG View Post
    Nope. Exact opposite. We're being killed since I made the switch to responsive and at this point wish I hadn't done it. Our typical growth went way south and our sales have tanked.
    Ouch! I'm sorry to hear you've had such problems with responsive. Personally, I don't like most responsive designs I've seen. They just don't seem to have a natural feel to them. It looks like I'm dead either way, so I turned on Volusion mobile again, took my mobile blocks out of the robots.txt, and am going to see if we continue to get duplicate content warnings. If so, I am at a loss for what to do next. I'm tired of Google controlling my life. To hell with them.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Mike R View Post
    It looks like Volusion never fixed the duplicate content issue, so I have now turned off Volusion mobile and am stuck with a bad dilemma. I can get penalized for not having a site that is mobile-friendly by Google's standards, or I can turn on the Volusion mobile and get penalized for having duplicate content.
    There isn't really a Volusion-fixable duplicate content issue. Once upon a time, cart providers raced to lead the industry and be cutting edge by developing and releasing a Mobile version of your site. It was a big selling point way back in 2011, but has since become antiquated.

    These mobile versions are really just one page that dynamically pulls and displays product content. Try following a product link to your store with the mobile version turned on. But wait - before you do that - imagine where you want to land (the product) and where you will actually land. Try it.

    You won't land on the product because the product doesn't exist on your mobile version. Instead, a single page generates stuff on the fly (that's the duplicate content that you're being warned about). So, anyone on a mobile device who clicks a backlink or advertisement to a product on your store... won't land on that product so long as you have the mobile version enabled.

    This functionality makes mobile device ecommerce and search marketing impossible. It's a huge step backward. When I get on my phone and click on a product link I want to go to the product on something that is designed to work, not your mobile store's homepage, and not your desktop version's homepage. Right? Google knows this, and has decided to undervalue sites that value simplicity of setup over user experience. The end result will be a relevant SERP with functioning pages, and backlinks and paid ads that work no matter what.

    This is a good thing, but it sucks to be stuck in the transition and feel helpless. My advice is to pick an as-plain-as-possible free HTML5 responsive theme from your provider (Volusion, right?) and customize it to your liking, and do this as-soon-as-possible before your site and business suffer too much.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Mike R View Post
    Ouch! I'm sorry to hear you've had such problems with responsive. Personally, I don't like most responsive designs I've seen. They just don't seem to have a natural feel to them. It looks like I'm dead either way, so I turned on Volusion mobile again, took my mobile blocks out of the robots.txt, and am going to see if we continue to get duplicate content warnings. If so, I am at a loss for what to do next. I'm tired of Google controlling my life. To hell with them.
    Make no mistake about it, Mike. I either fix my responsive site or I go home for good. Mobile is a thing of the past and I believe you have to stay relevant to stay in business.

    My site used to fit the viewport perfectly on a tablet. It was the phone that was the problem. I haven't had a chance to review my stats to any great degree, but last time I looked I now have a higher bounce rate on both desktop and tablet than I did prior to the change. Phone is the exact same bounce rate, so no win there. Traffic and conversions are down for all three (however, the traffic issue could be the huge mess that was created with the mirror site). It's a no win situation... if Google doesn't put me in the SERPs... I won't have any potential customers TO bounce.

    It's all new to me and unfortunately very new to about half of my demographic. While I'm sure that everyone who works at Google knows what those three lines/menu means... um, not so much 'real' people above a certain age. I also have friends... older and younger... who don't know that clicking on a logo will take you 'home' on a web site (in most cases). Obviously, Google employees don't check with the rest of the population when they make their decisions.

    If you've already dropped 20% in traffic, I assume that you have a pretty large mobile base? Mine is about 65% (combined) and I couldn't afford to lose it. Despite the kinks to work out, I'm glad I moved forward since all my competitors are mobile friendly... big and small.

    Just wish now I'd waited until after the Mother's Day rush because I don't think Google started 'penalizing' until recently.

    Are you getting the dup content penalty even with this in your robots.txt?

    # DO NOT MODIFY - MCOMMERCE
    User-Agent: *
    Disallow: /Mobile/*

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by GGG View Post
    Are you getting the dup content penalty even with this in your robots.txt?

    # DO NOT MODIFY - MCOMMERCE
    User-Agent: *
    Disallow: /Mobile/*
    I wasn't blocking mobile that way. I was using:

    Disallow: /mobile/Zoom.aspx?id=*
    Disallow: /mobile/Product.aspx?id=*
    Disallow: /mobile/Category.aspx?id=*
    Disallow: /mobile/Product.aspx?ProductCode=*

    I picked that up here a long time ago when the duplicate mobile URL issues popped up. However, I removed these lines from my robots.txt and am wondering if that was a bad idea. I just did it yesterday, so it would take a while to know if it helped or hurt.

    Mike

    Edit 5/7: This morning I looked at my indexed pages in GWTs and they are starting to go up. I guess that means that they are indexing each mobile page as well, which will lead to duplicate content. Can anyone verify that and/or confirm which of the disallows for the robots.txt is the best if Volusion mobile is enabled?
    Last edited by Mike R; 05-07-2015 at 07:05 AM.

  7. #7
    Mike,

    I recently discovered that disallow in my robots.txt file. I'd like to say that I put it there, but I didn't. Since I was never hit with dup content issues before the recent mirror site, I just ignored the instructions here on the forum.

    I assumed something that V put there since stores could be crawled for mobile even if they didn't have enabled. I've never used mobile.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by GGG View Post
    Mike,

    I recently discovered that disallow in my robots.txt file. I'd like to say that I put it there, but I didn't. Since I was never hit with dup content issues before the recent mirror site, I just ignored the instructions here on the forum.

    I assumed something that V put there since stores could be crawled for mobile even if they didn't have enabled. I've never used mobile.
    So if Volusion put this disallow in there:

    # DO NOT MODIFY - MCOMMERCE
    User-Agent: *
    Disallow: /Mobile/*

    Then it seems it should be blocked. Right now I'm not blocking anything mobile. Can anyone confirm whether this should or shouldn't be disallowed?

    Mike

  9. #9
    Mike, you can read C7 Scott's article about it here: http://www.convergent7.com/volusion/...ues-solutions/

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by KKS View Post
    Mike, you can read C7 Scott's article about it here:
    I'm familiar with that post. That's was where I got the robots.txt disallows for mobile I've been using. But that was 6 months ago. I was hoping (why I don't know) that maybe Volusion had gotten their garbage together and fixed the problem. I went back and added the disallows to my robots.txt, but I still have Volusion mobile enabled. I'm going to let it run for a while and see what happens.

    Or doesn't . . . like, sales.

    Mike

  11. #11
    I figure it won't hurt you to try it, since already taking a hit.

    All I can tell you is that it was there... and that I never had a dup content issue prior to my mirror site.

    Let us know, Mike...

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by deanp View Post
    Try following a product link to your store with the mobile version turned on... You won't land on the product because the product doesn't exist on your mobile version. Instead, a single page generates stuff on the fly...
    Apparently this is no longer true, and the product has been updated to actually take visitors to the correct places. I remember at one point I wanted to utilize QR codes at a convention, but the whole plan had to get tossed because the the links wouldn't go to the products.

    When did this change?

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by GGG View Post
    Nope. Exact opposite. We're being killed since I made the switch to responsive and at this point wish I hadn't done it. Our typical growth went way south and our sales have tanked.

    It's going to take a long time to recover what we've lost. $, traffic, rank in the SERPs, etc.

    I'm trying to decide if I have the patience/commitment to start over again or not.

    I'm so sorry to hear that your sales are down. I don't get as much opportunity to post here because of the crazy amount of work that always seems to be flying my way, but I know that you work very hard on your site.

    We are about 2 to 3 weeks away from launching a new responsive redesign on our website as well. Volusion's mobile site was a no-go for us - between the duplicate content, no search, and the fact that products with options don't show up on the mobile (90% of our products have options), we felt we really didn't have much of a choice but to go with responsive. We gave some consideration to moving to another platform and tested several out, but the time involved in re-training all of our employees and the risk of potentially dropping in search results steered us away from it.

    Just out of curiosity, is there a particular aspect of the responsive template that you think is hurting your site's performance? I'm not doing our re-design myself, but let's just say that I have been a pain in the *** for the designers when it comes to trying to anticipate potential issues that customers may have with the redesign and deal with them before the redesign launches.

    I know Volusion doesn't have the ideal responsive setup, but I've been a bit of a bully about things that I feel may cause problems that are within my control - i.e. keeping the design as true as possible to our current design so customers know they're in the right place, making sure there the search box is visible on the mobile page and not hidden in the menu glyph, making sure that the hamburger glyph says 'menu' or 'shop now' and isn't just 3 little lines, etc.


    Shannon Powell

  14. #14
    I never had the V mobile enabled, but added the disallow to my robots.txt when Scott wrote about it. Didn't receive any dup content warnings from Google.

    Mike, I believe others who use the V mobile got rid of their GWT duplicate content warnings by having the robot.txt disallows.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by tsrpowell View Post
    making sure there the search box is visible on the mobile page and not hidden in the menu glyph, making sure that the hamburger glyph says 'menu' or 'shop now' and isn't just 3 little lines, etc.

    Hi Shannon,

    Ditto and ditto. Apparently, it didn't help. I'm sure CV7 would tell you that I tried to foresee issues in advance. Of course, I'm not a PIA.

    The first issue was straightening out the mess created with Google by our mirror site. Our traffic was up/down, products de-indexed for dup content, etc.

    I'm just now getting time to take a closer look regarding usability and design. I see issues/changes that need to be taken care of with both. If I don't like our current tablet design, I'm sure our customers don't either. Furthermore, customers should not have to input.. 'where is telephone number' in the search field, etc. etc. and so on.

    In addition, I'm worried a portion of our demographic isn't taking too kindly to typical 'responsive' design/usability.

    I'm not ready to jump ship... (yet)... but I'm extremely frustrated and concerned.

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