Feature Article

October 10, 2013

Best Practices on Mobile Not Necessarily Followed by Fortune 100 Brands

The Search Agency has been around since 2002. At that time it was established to help marketers address the disruptive impact of search engines on the interaction between buyers and sellers. Now in 2013, it is an online marketing firm with services to support multi-channel online marketing strategies.

As one of the largest independent U.S. search marketing agencies, the company today released the results of its “Mobile Experience Scorecard: Fortune 100 Companies” study. This study took a look at how some of the largest, most recognized companies are adapting to the new mobile landscape via Google’s best practices.

The mobile sites of Fortune 100 companies were evaluated by the Search Agency’s team of mobile experts. The goal was to determine which most closely supported established mobile marketing best practices.

Image via Shutterstock

Google established a set of best practices for achieving load times of less than one second. This is the time that Google determined was necessary to avoid interrupting the user’s flow. In order to accomplish this, the following six factors are needed:

  1. Server must render the response time of less than 200 milliseconds (ms)  
  2. Minimize the number of redirects
  3. Minimize the number of roundtrips to first render
  4. Avoid external blocking JavaScript and CSS in above-the-fold content
  5. Reserve time for browser layout and rendering, 200 ms
  6. Optimize JavaScript execution and rendering time

The scoring system used was a rating of one to five, with five being the top score. Analysis was based on load speed, site format, calculated download speed, social media presence, and app presence.

The analysis was based on both quantitative factors established by industry best practices and Google, and a series of qualitative factors. It might not come as a surprise to learn that none of the Fortune 100 companies achieved a score of five. Coca-Cola and FedEx came the closest, tying for first place with a score of 4.49.

  • Although these companies have both the financial and IT resources, the following results were marked on the scorecard:
  • Although Google has established Responsive Web Design (RWD) as the industry best practice for serving the same HTML across devices, the top 20 sites that ranked the highest on the mobile scorecard used dedicated mobile sites rather than RWD.
  • Of the 100 sites, only nine overall used RWD. Of the remaining 91 companies, 47 used dedicated mobile sites, while the other 44 did not provide a separate mobile experience from the desktop version of their site.
  • None of the sites met all of the set criteria; therefore, none of the Fortune 100 companies achieved a perfect score of five.
  • The average page load time was about 5 seconds, well above Google’s one-second recommendation.
  • The average score for all companies in the study was 2.31 out of five.

Grant Simmons, who is director, SEO and social product at the Search Agency, said, “With Google’s recent algorithm updates such as Hummingbird and their increased emphasis on the mobile experience, we created the mobile experience scorecard to assess how some of America’s largest companies are presenting their brands to mobile users. And we’re frankly surprised by the results. Consumers expect that they can easily interact with their favorite brands online while on the go, and businesses that do not provide mobile-friendly experiences risk losing valuable search traffic and alienating mobile users. And it’s not just large companies, businesses of all sizes need to consider how they are catering to mobile audiences and benchmark their mobile-readiness against industry standards.”

A couple of the other companies that scored more than four are TIAA-CREF and Walgreens, both with a score of 4.24 and Liberty Mutual coming in at fifth place with a score of 4.19.

Edited by Alisen Downey

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