When word spread about the impending rollout of ‘Mobilegeddon’ - Google’s biggest ever change to its smartphone search algorithm - the SEO community was up in arms about the potential damage inflicted on a site that wasn’t deemed ‘mobile-friendly’.
Google released a tool for helping sites prepare themselves for what was about to happen. It was a basic test to conduct, but the threat of dropping down the search engine pecking order for smartphone browsers, who are accounting for a growing number of web searches in general, didn’t bear thinking about.
Surely Google’s pledge to favour domains that were fully optimised for mobile browsing would be the wake-up call that site owners needed?
Well, it seems that while things have changed - and the world wide web is home to a much greater number of mobile-friendly sites following the events of April - the ‘armageddon’ status was probably unwarranted.
A ‘before and after’ examination of hundreds of thousands of web pages and keywords from SEO software group Searchmetrics shows a rather meagre upswing of 3% for the global share of mobile-friendly URLs following April 21, to 71%. This is complemented by a swing of the same amount in the proportion of sites that didn’t make the grade.
The results certainly don’t create positive reading for all the analysts that predicted ‘big’ movements after April. But the worst was yet to come.
Searchmetrics went on to provide analysis of the average change in ranking position for the sites that were and were not equipped for the change, showing there to be very little at stake for the victors.
A 0.20% rise in position coupled with a 3% change in mobile-friendly sites wouldn’t seem like big news considering that ‘Mobilegeddon’ sought media coverage from around the world. However, it’s important to realise how many sites could be packed into that 3%, and how many positions a 0.20% change would take into account.
Marcus Tober, CTO and founder of Searchmetrics, said: “While these don’t look like high numbers, we do consider this a significant change given the large volume of keywords analysed.
“This is especially true as we only included those web pages that have stayed in the top three search results pages after the Google mobile-friendly update. If you add in the non mobile-friendly pages that have completely dropped out of the top three pages, the average loss in rankings would have been much higher.”
Speaking earlier this week, Eileen Naughton, managing director and VP for sales and operations for Google UK-Ireland, informed an audience at London Tech Week that more than half of the engine’s searches come from mobile users.