It's now been nearly two weeks since the release of "Mobilegeddon," the major update to Google's search algorithm that was released on 4/21/2015. This major website penalized websites that did not provide a positive user experience for mobile users via a mobile site or effective responsive design. Anticipation following this algorithm update was pretty intense, to say the least, and quite a few SEO experts believed the impact on SMB organizations could be greater than Panda or Penguin.
To be fair, 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 a smart phone or tablet. While historic algorithm updates Panda and Penguin were notoriously impactful, their effects were no where near the 40% of sites that could see changes from Mobilegeddon.
And the results are in! Well, actually, they aren't quite in. As it turns out, Mobilegeddon has been perhaps the most gradual release of a major Google update to date. While impacts so far are quite minimal, there have been a few.
For more in-depth coverage of what was affected by Google's Mobile-Geddon update, we recommend our blog Google to Start Penalizing Non-Mobile Websites.
Gradual Algorithm Update
Very few small business owners woke up to dramatic changes on the morning of 4/21/2015. In fact, the general reaction in the SEO and inbound marketing communities was "that's it?"
As it turns out, Mobilegeddon was a very gradual rollout across the sites indexed by Google. Friday, May 1st 2015, Google Analyst Gary Illyes confirmed in a 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.
While the algorithm update may be complete, reindexing of sites that qualify to be penalized has not. SEO expert Matt Barnes predicts it will be approximately two more weeks before we feel the full and final impact of mobilegeddon as Google gradually works through reindexing search results.
Fortunately, due to the fact that sites are indexed daily, this doesn't mean that mobile latecomers have too much to worry about. It's crucial to apply lingering mobile updates as quickly as possible, in order to have minimal changes when reindexing is finalized around 5/15.
Has There Been Impact So Far?
Despite the gradual rollout, there has been some noticeable change. Some business owners and marketers report drastic changes in their organization's search rankings, though analyst believe these individuals are in the minority. Impacts have been felt, however. In this blog, you'll learn some of the impacts that Google's Mobilegeddon has had in the weeks following it's release.
1. A Nearly 5% Increase in Mobile-Optimized Websites:
On the day of the release, Google announced that there has been a “4.7% uptick" in mobile friendly sites since the day of their initial announcement in late February. In the same company announcement, Google stated they anticipate this number will continue to grow as sites in the midst of a mobile update complete their changes and launch.
Does 5% seem low? Not really, considering the volume of inactive websites, as well as the massive number of companies who'd already made their web presence mobile-friendly. Regardless, it's a fantastic thing that so many organizations are choosing to meet the needs of today's mobile-obsessed consumer base.
2. Many SEOs Experts are Unconvinced
While the number of small business owners and enterprise marketers who scrambled to complete mobile updates was pretty high, it wasn't anywhere near 40%. Will we all wake up to major changes on the morning of 5/15? It's certainly possible, but many SEO experts are actually unconvinced.
Thought leader Barry Schwartz expressed some overt 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: "Will things in Google's mobile search results change even more over the next few weeks? I doubt it. I suspect what we see today is going to be the 'worst' of this mobilegeddon thing."
While it remains to be seen whether Schwartz's prediction is on-point, it's clear that Mobilegeddon definitely didn't deliver the drastic and immediate impact it could have.
3. User Rollout Has Been Extremely Gradual
Mobilegeddon doesn't technically affect desktop searches. Websites that lack an appropriately user-friendly mobile version are only excluded from mobile search results. However, user rollout has been gradual. Schwarz reports that a full week after the update, only 30% of mobile search users were receiving exclusively mobile results on their phones.
While it may seem relieving to marketers without a mobile website that their site will be included in desktop searches, remember that click-through rates and site popularity factor into search results. If your business loses it's ability to capture mobile traffic, the results for your ranking in desktop search could be absolutely devastating.
What Do I Do Now?
While Mobilegeddon certainly hasn't been the apocalypse it was predicted to be, it doesn't mean you're safe to continue operating without a mobile-friendly website. Regardless of the final impact of Mobilegeddon, having a website that's easy-to-read and navigate on a smartphone or tablet is crucial for doing business with today's mobile consumers.
Do you suspect your search ranking could be affected by Google's latest Mobilegeddon update? If you've noticed a drastic drop in any of the following, you could be suffering from a mobile website that doesn't meet the major search engine's criteria for a positive user experience:
Organic search visits
Leads from search
First-time website visitors
To learn how your site stacks up against your competitors, check out IMA's free mobile website assessment by clicking the button below!