The After effects of Google’s “Mobilegeddon”


“Mobilegeddon” the major update to Google’s search algorithm rolled out on 4/21/2015. This mobile-friendly algorithm update by Google penalized websites that did not provide a positive user experience for mobile users via effective & responsive mobile site. For marketers worldwide, that translates to ranking changes and for ecommerce marketers, this means changes in visits, orders and gradually revenue. The changes are perceived to be positive or negative based on site’s mobile friendliness.

Fairly speaking, the potential impact of this update was absolutely huge. Click-through marketing reports that as many as 40% of websites fail to meet Google’s criteria for optimal user experience when viewed on smart phones or tablet. The impact of Mobilegeddon is although higher than that of historic algorithm updates Panda and Penguin but has been perhaps the most gradual release till date.

Gradual rollout of Algorithm Update

If we talk about reactions of small business owners, a very few of them woke up to dramatic changes on the morning of 21st April, 2015. In fact, the general reaction in the SEO and inbound marketing communities was “that’s it?”

Google Analyst Gary Illyes, on May 1st 2015 confirmed in his tweet that the update was finally in full effect. He also noted that “there were a load of websites that became MF (Mobile-friendly) recently, “so the impact was indeed much lower than Google’s analysts and spam fighting team had anticipated.

The update may be complete but reindexing sites that qualify to be penalized has not. SEO experts predicts that it be take almost 2 weeks more before we see the full and final impact as Google gradually work through reindexing search results. Mobile latecomers need not to worry much due to the fact that sites are indexed daily. However it is crucial to apply lingering mobile updates as quickly as possible, in order to have least changes when reindexing is finalized.

Impacts So Far:

  1. A nearly 5% increase in mobile-optimized websites: On the day of release, Google announced that there has been a 4.7% uptick in mobile friendly sites since the day of initial announcement made in February this year. Google also stated they anticipate this number will continue to grow as sites in the midst of mobile update complete their changes and launch. It’s incredible thing that so many organizations are choosing to meet the needs of today’s mobile-obsessed consumer base.
  1. Unconvinced SEO experts: There is a high possibility that we all will wake up to major changes on the morning of 5/15, but many SEO experts are actually unconvinced. Thought leader Barry Schwartz expressed some apparent doubt that Mobilegeddon will actually ever be as big as it was anticipated to be, even following the announcement that reindexing was still yet to fully occur. Such predictions remain a question, but it is clear that Mobilegeddon definitely didn’t deliver the drastic and immediate impact it could have.
  1. User Rollout has been highly gradual: the effect of Mobilegeddon isn’t seen in desktop searches, but webistes that lack an appropriately user-friendly mobile version are only excluded from mobile search results. However, the user rollout has been gradual. Schwartz reported that a week later after update, only 30% of mobile search users was receiving exclusively mobile results on their mobile devices. While marketers without a mobile website may feel relieved that there site will appear in desktop searches, they should not forget that click-through rates and site popularity factor into search results will get affected.

How to analyze the impact

If your performance metrics are based on keyword rankings, you are in for a rough ride. Each keyword now needs to track twice: once for desktop and once for mobile. And as some analytics packages even break out smartphones and tablets, certain sites will actually have to track keyword thrice.

Even worse, a large piece of one’s website’s traffic comes from the long-tail of keywords, although that traffic is small in number but add-up to large number in aggregate. Tracking all of those in a three device types isn’t possible, irrespective of which ranking software one use.

But ecommerce make money when it sells not when it ranks. That makes the task of analyzing the impact of algorithm update simple. Marketers just need to calculate the change to organic search traffic and revenue driven by Google on mobile devices beginning April 21, 2015.

This update is not about ranking for a handful of good keywords, it is about the application of technical algorithm update to every page on your site. There are ways to measure the impact in your web analytics tools:

  • Begin with an “organic search engines” report, narrow it to “Google” only, and apply a “mobile devices” filter.
  • Start with a “mobile devices” report, narrow it to “organic search engines” and apply a “Google” filter.
  • Sign in the Google Webmaster Tools and look at the Top Queries and Top Pages reports with the “Mobile” filter selected.

Now when even Google supports the mobile-friendliness factor of any site, you got the importance of mobile-friendly website. So drive your website and Search Engine Optimization efforts accordingly.

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