Mobile Tools & Tech

Mobilegeddon: The Effects of Google’s Recent Mobile Algorithm Update

sovrnmarketing // July 23, 2015

Mobilegeddon aftermath blog featured image

It has been 3 months since Google implemented the mobile-friendly update to their search algorithm and brought “Mobilegeddon” upon the digital publishing world.  Last time we discussed this update it had only been announced and we were advising publishers to take the initiative and make their sites mobile-friendly to prepare. Now that it has been around for a while we are starting to see the magnitude of its impact on site’s search results.

Before we dive into the results lets look back at what mobilegeddon actually was.

Google Webmaster mobilegeddon Quote

The purpose of the update was to provide better mobile-search results by taking into account how mobile-friendly a site is.  When Googlebot crawls a site to assess its mobile compatibility it is checking that:

  •      The site avoids using software that is not common on mobile devices.
  •      Text is readable without zooming
  •      Content is sized appropriately so users don’t have to scroll horizontally or zoom
  •      Places links large and far enough apart so they can be tapped easily.

Sites that don’t follow these practices will have their mobile-search rank penalized while sites that do will be considered more relevant to mobile users. You can check if your site is mobile-friendly through Google’s official tester.
Non-mobile friendly sites were harmed
As was the intended purpose of the update, many sites that did not meet Google’s expectations for a mobile-friendly site lost their rank in searches performed on mobile devices. A study done by Stone Temple Consulting shows the impact it had on the Top 10 results.
Stone Temple Consulting mobile friendly gains and losses graph
Their report shows that almost half of all non-mobile friendly sites in the Top 10 for a search query lost their rank. STC credits the low gain for mobile-friendly sites to two factors:

Stone Temple Consulting quote

While these results give us insight into how the first page of results was affected it doesn’t do the full impact justice.  Adobe revealed in their Q2 Digital Advertising Report that non-mobile friendly sites lost up to 10% of their organic traffic after mobilegeddon was implemented.
Many publishers responded to their loss in mobile traffic by purchasing mobile search ads from Google.
According to Adobe, this increased the cost-per-click of these ads by 16%.
If you are one of the many negatively affected by mobilegeddon, don’t rush to buy your search ads just yet. While CPC has increased, click-through-rate is actually down 9% since Q1. With price up and effectiveness down, it may not be fiscally worth it to purchase mobile search ads. Focusing on improving your mobile experience will end up doing more for mobile performance.



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