It's been six months since Google announced that the update of its algorithm would reward mobile-friendly websites, thus penalizing those that were not. It was on April 21, 2015 and since that day people began talking about Mobilegeddon: like all the best apocalypse stories, lots of people anticipated how search results would be shaken up, smart websites that were already mobile-optimized would have unforeseen surges, and how the big ones would fall.
The immediate consequences: is Mobilegeddon a bluff?
There was panic for a few days and it seemed that the world would be changed shortly thereafter. What happened next? Nothing, there was no real turning point: according to data from Searchmetrics, in the days following Mobilegeddon, non-mobile sites lost a total of 0.21 positions, but only in mobile search while keeping their ranking stable in desktop search. Here are some examples: last.fm and boxofficemojo.com, while not passing Google’s test, recorded a loss only in mobile search.
6 months after Mobilegeddon: ok, Google was not joking
For those who thought that they could just sit back and relax in their non-mobile-friendly sites, there is, however, some bad news -after 6 months, the effects of Mobilegeddon are indeed starting to be felt.
According to research from Adobe, the Mobilegeddon took place in the form of a decline of up to 10% of traffic for non-optimized sites and the study carried out by Eric Enge of Stone Temple Consulting, shows that nearly half of the non-mobile sites lost positions in search rankings.
Moreover, as Enge further claims, from April 21 to date Google has only carried out a first test with respect to the mobile factor. After considering the results of this phase, it will make the impact of the algorithm even more remarkable, going far beyond the consequences of Panda or Penguin.
5 tips to overcome the post-mobilegeddon (and beyond)
To deal with this change and to think ahead, you don’t need to be a prophet nor a web expert. Here are our tips:
# 1 - Stay calm and read the instructions
It is a fact that Google regularly changes its algorithm, but panicking every time and taking hasty decisions is not the smartest choice. To understand that the effect of Mobilegeddon would have been visible, but gradual, you only had to read Google’s announcement. Here it clearly says that, even after April 21, a number of variables are still being considered in the ranking of a website: “Even if a page with high quality content is not mobile-friendly, it could still rank high if it has great content for the query. This update will only affect search rankings on mobile devices, the search results in all languages globally and it will be applied to individual pages, not entire websites.”
Also, for those who are still getting acquainted with mobile, no worries: Google ensures that, as soon as the site will be optimized, you can quickly regain lost positions.
#2 - Roll up your sleeves and start from the engine
The first thing to do for site owners or for web designers and marketers who look after them on their behalf, is to check whether your web page is indeed mobile-friendly or not.
Google can reveal that to you, thanks to the appropriate tester developed to help pages understand their level of optimization. What if the test gives a negative result? Don’t worry, there are at least two possible ways to fix this:
Refer to those who have made the site for you and ask them to make the mobile version.
- Pros: the new mobile site will be faithful and very similar to the original.
- Cons: the implementation time would be long and require a substantial budget.
Do it on your own and choose an online system to make mobile sites. There are several of them on the web, which let you create a full mobile-friendly site, without asking help from programmers or web designers.
- Pros: solve the problem with your own resources, limited time and budget.
- Cons: typically, these solutions do not allow advanced customization (although it is not a big deal for small and medium brands).
#3 – Think like a human, not like a robot
When you create, update or modify a site you often make a big mistake. That happens when you give priority to what pleases you, then Google (as was the case for Mobilegeddon) but never about the people who use the site.
Let’s try to understand which factors annoy users when they surf on mobile: according to data from Forrester Research, in 34% of the cases it is the website’s slow load time, followed by pop-ups (21%), hardly visible contents (21%) and unattractive layouts (16%).
To make your website truly mobile, you need to do much more than getting an okay from Google’s mobile-friendly test. It means that you have to put yourselves in other people’s shoes, those who find your page through their smartphones, enter and interact with the contents of your website, creating a positive experience. If your website doesn’t become mobile-friendly soon enough, you will be penalized by the users, not by Google.
#4 – Be quick
The load speed of a website on mobile is truly an increasingly important factor, as confirmed by Colin Drive, SEO Manager at SQ Digital in an interview with Social Times: pages that are designed responsive pass Google’s mobile-friendly test, but they have a slower load time. Those who came out unscathed from Mobilegeddon after passing Google’s test shouldn’t declare victory yet because they could be outranked by those with non-mobile friendly sites, but with a faster load time. How do you test the speed of your site? There are many Page Speed Tools ready for use on the web, like PageSpeed Insights or New Relic.
#5 – Riding the wave
The Mobilegeddon should therefore not be thought of as a threat, but as an opportunity to change perspective, moving more and more not only to the mobile-friendly but towards the mobile-only direction.
Many companies seem to have grasped the message: didit.com has been eyeing advertising agencies based in New York. In April, only 73% had a complete mobile-friendly site, out of 104 websites only 76 passed Google’s test.
However, the situation has changed six months later: 81% of the sites in question are mobile, and many agencies such as Atmosphere Proximity, Campfire or Fearless Company who had originally failed the test, have made it this time: an interesting fact is that they are not the largest agencies in the US, but they certainly were the smartest in this context, taking the opportunity and turning it into greater visibility.
And here are the top 5 sites, which according to Searchmetrics are the winners or losers in mobile visibility, six months after the Mobilegeddon:
Does your website deserve to be on the left or right column? To swim through the waves, perhaps it would be sufficient to make your website mobile-friendly. But if you want to ride the wave, technology or budget alone isn’t enough: you need a savvy insight. It’s not just about turning your desktop site into a mobile one, says Haresh Kumar of Mooweb, the key is to optimize the entire user experience, providing personalized and contextualized content. Is this tiring? Perhaps, but it is a matter of choices. And prospects.