June 24, 2015

Picking Up the Pieces Two Months After Google’s Mobilegeddon Update

Did Google's mobile-friendly algorithm make the impact we all thought it would, or was it more bark than bite?

By Justin H.

This post-apocalyptic internet wasteland has left us all searching for answers. We have to rebuild, but how? Google’s mobile update hit the universal reset button! How can we live on and survive after mobilegeddon?

Too dramatic? Maybe a bit.

On April 21st, Google frightened businesses, websites and SEO experts everywhere by rolling out its mobile update. It was designed to discriminate against sites that were not mobile-friendly. We have touched on this topic on more than one occasion here at Tek Shouts!, and now it is time to assess the damage. Were we all just freaking out over nothing?

Moovweb conducted a six-week long study after mobilegeddon was announced, and came to a number of conclusions.

They tracked over 1,000 prominent e-commerce keywords during the time frame. The top spot in Google’s search results was almost always mobile-friendly. The trend continued linearly throughout the top 10 in most results, as we can see in the graph below.

For the retail industry, 80% of the results in the top 10 were mobile-friendly, which was more than any other category.

So, why didn’t things change? The main possible explanation is because Google bucked the trend by warning everybody of the impending update. They even laid out thorough criteria as to what the algorithm was targeting and how to combat it. Website owners likely had time to make the necessary changes before mobilegeddon wiped out all of civilization.

The folks at Search Metrics took a look at the winners and losers of mobilegeddon by examining the immediate impact on popular sites. They took mobile vs. desktop changes into account, and some of the results were staggering, but overall it wasn’t too alarming.

There were a few outliers. Reddit and NBC Sports saw their sites take a tumble by over 27%, while GQ and Quora received big boosts. Aside from a select few big guns, the graph below shows minimal change once again.
Because Google laid out all the rules for how to combat its own algorithm update, any site hurt by Mobilegeddon has nobody to blame but themselves. It takes a grand total of two seconds to check! You can just enter your URL right here on Google’s own site.

One trip to Reddit.com on your desktop is all it takes to realize how unaesthetically pleasing the overall layout is. It is no wonder it doesn’t read well on a smartphone, because it is one of the few major desktop sites that doesn’t look too great, either.


What might be the biggest post-mobilegeddon ranking factor is page speed. 3Q Digital director of SEO Colin Guidi did an interview with Social Times and shed light on its importance.

“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).”

No one likes waiting for pages to load. We are a society based upon instant gratification. Wait five seconds to navigate past a home screen!? Why don’t I just go back to my 1990s brick phone while I’m at it?

Aside from page speed, you have to dig real deep to find drastic changes in this post-mobilegeddon world we are sifting through. Becoming mobile-friendly is like taking a test with a cheat sheet. We are just glad this mobile update didn’t hurt marketing and tech blogs!

Have you encountered any clunky websites on your smartphone? What do you think of the Tek Shouts! mobile functionality? Feel free to let us know below!

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