Mobilegeddon 6 Months Later: Did the Sky Fall?

When Google pre-announced their algorithm update for mobile, search marketers and webmasters started scrambling to update their sties so they’d be mobile-friendly. With the significant increase in mobile usage for search and shopping, this was not a bad thing. But was the hype worth the borderline hysteria?

Post-Mobilegeddon studies have shown that the impact of this update was much smaller than expected – at least in the short-term. For example, it didn’t really impact search engine rankings and there’s still only one Google Search Index: a desktop index. As of yet, there isn’t an index just for mobile friendly web pages.

Here are a few other notable findings from Search Engine Land’s two month review of Mobilegeddon:

Slight Increase in Page 1 Mobile-Friendly Results

Moz’s Dr. Peter Meyers conducted an extensive examination of the 7-day impact of Mobilegeddon and determined that, while MozCast — their Google algorithm weather report — showed a slight rise in the percentage of page 1 mobile-friendly results, the impact was definitely less consequential than many predicted.

Decrease in Non Mobile-Friendly URLs on First 3 Pages of Search Results

Content marketing company BrightEdge conducted a survey of over 20,000 URLs and found that there was a 21% decrease in the number of non-mobile-friendly URLs on the first 3 pages of the SERPs compared to before the update. This is a more significant impact than on page 1 results, which only saw a 17.3% decrease. BrightEdge speculated that since ranking factors tend to be weaker on the second and third pages of search results, the mobile-friendliness of a URL had a bigger impact on rank than it did on the first page.

They also found that sites with a user experience score of 80 or higher on the PageSpeed Insights tool performed well in terms of being deemed “mobile-friendly.” Their advice is to keep tweaking your site until you receive a user experience score of at least 80.

Brand Name Searches Not As Impacted

Larry Kim, founder and chief technology officer of WordStream, reported that brand name searches didn’t seem to have been significantly impacted by the update — even for sites that aren’t mobile-optimized. However, for every other type of keyword, Google does seem to be favoring other sites, which means that mobile-optimized sites are gaining whatever the non-mobile optimized sites are losing.

Page Speed May Be the Most Significant Ranking Factor

Colin Guidi, director of SEO at 3Q Digital, reports that a site’s speed and load times seem to be a more significant ranking factor than mobile-friendliness post-Mobilegeddon. In an interview, he said “Visiting these sites via a mobile browser and slower processors shows that page speed and load time seems to be a heavier weighted ranking factor over this new mobile-friendly update. With responsive sites you have a heavier code base and can inherently have a slower load time while still passing Google’s Mobile Friendly Test. Responsive sites that fall into this bucket of being friendly but still outranked by non-mobile-friendly sites should take a look at their TTFB (time to first byte).

Preparation is Key to Prevention

While some non-mobile-friendly sites and pages definitely took a hit, the overall impact of Mobilegeddon wasn’t as dire as many anticipated. With that said, the reality is that it’s still incredibly important to have a mobile-friendly site – whether that’s a responsive design site or a separate mobile site. Google’s push toward mobile-first design and their clear stance on this issue strongly suggests that mobile-friendly sites are going to have an advantage over time.

We’re already seeing this with many of our clients as their mobile traffic, conversions, and revenue have increased significantly year-over-year and will most likely continue to do so.

This premise is supported by a recent comScore study titled, The 2015 U.S. Mobile App Report. In it, they note that, although desktop is not declining in total engagement, it is losing share to mobile – which now accounts for 62% of digital media time spent. And mobile apps on their own now drive the majority of digital media time spent at 54%.”

To learn what you can do to prepare your site for mobile growth, check out our article, 7 Strategies for Optimizing Your Site for Mobile.

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