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April 21st 2015 saw a landmark moment for mobile users of the search giant, Google. On this day, a significant update to their algorithm was designed to boost mobile friendly pages in Google’s mobile search results. But what were the effects to businesses around the world?
Mobilegeddon, as it has become known, was predicted to have a big impact on businesses who found themselves unprepared for their websites to be mobile-optimised i.e. ranking well when searched for on mobile devices. Was this true, have businesses found the update more Mobilegeddon and less mobile-heaven? Let’s take a look.
Surveying 4,600 SMEs across the UK (1,000), USA (2,000), Canada (800) and Australia (800), Koozai wanted to find out just how much online businesses have been affected by Mobilegeddon – which highlighted some interesting results.
The inconsistency and unpredictability of Google’s algorithm update has caused concern and confusion amongst businesses. However, not everyone has felt similar effects.
As indicated in the graph, across the four surveyed countries, over two thirds of SMEs found that the mobile update, and more accurately the notion of Mobilegeddon was not all that it was hyped up to be. This feeling was felt the most, 76%, from UK businesses, and the least, 64%, from Australian businesses.
Whilst the notion of Mobilegeddon may have seemed overhyped by most SMEs across the globe, its effects were still very real – and did indeed have an impact on both rankings and traffic. The graph below indicates how severe these effects have been.
Between 37% (in Canada) and 46% (in USA) of SMEs experienced changes in rankings as a result of the mobile update. Additionally, of those who had experienced changes, a large number were concerned they had seen a drop in rankings of at least three places, and as a result had experienced a drop in traffic, as much as 50% in some cases.
Most worryingly was the percentage of sites that had experienced a drop in rankings even with their site optimised for mobile – between 19% (in Canada) and 27% (in USA).
A SME owner from the USA remarked:
I had my website optimised for mobile months before this update. Before the update I was at the top of Google for some keywords on mobile search. Now I’m three or four places, below websites which aren’t showing the ‘mobile-friendly’ tag!
Stephen Bennet, Director at Stop Procrastinating APP spoke of his dismay at the effect:
Google had warned they were updating for mobile and there were mobilegeddon warnings. However these were aimed at ensuring websites like mine were updated to being mobile friendly, which it was. So I had taken on the warning and so didn’t expect that the update would impact my company. It seems odd that you take the advice from Google, implement it and have a worse experience.
Whilst SMEs across the globe have felt some impact on rankings, how does this compare to sales? Well there’s concern across businesses, but also confusion.
As you can see from the graph above most SMEs were unsure about the role mobile played in the user’s final purchase on a desktop. This is a significant percentage, between 49% (in the USA and Canada) and 61% (in Australia); which highlights the shortcomings businesses are facing when tracking sales online, especially across multiple devices.
Even though between 41% (in Australia) and 45% (in the UK) of those surveyed revealed they weren’t worried as their sales come from desktops, a good proportion of businesses were concerned about the impact of Mobilegeddon on sales – 32%, 36% and 37% of businesses in the UK, Canada and Australia and USA, respectively.
Stephen Bennet, Director at Stop Procrastinating App explained how this affected his site:
I realised something was wrong a week after the update was supposed to have been release. I noticed a significant fall in sales and tried to find out what was going on. I discovered that the traffic going to my website from Google searches had literally dropped by 50%. I saw that my website had dropped in the Google rankings and as a result I was not getting as much traffic. I was very angry as I had done everything that Google had told me to do.
Most businesses these days get customers from Internet searches. People look for keywords. In my case, say they will look up ‘website blocker’ or ‘productivity app’ and they will find my website. If my website doesn’t appear on the first page it means I will get very few potential customers visiting the site and few sales, so the impact of my website dropping in search results was dramatic and immediate. If you’re number 1 in Google search you’ll receive about 35% of people searching for that keyword. Then 12% for number two spot and it descends quite rapidly after that, with position 6 only getting 4% of visitors.
Finally, a significant percentage of businesses surveyed admitted that they did not know if their sites were even optimised for mobile; between 12% (in the USA) and 17% (in Canada and Australia).
If your business is unsure as to whether your website is optimised for mobile, speak to Koozai today for a friendly chat – and discover the hidden potential of your online business.
The hype that the Google mobile update would cause carnage in the search engine rankings missed the larger picture. Exaggerating the impact meant that businesses didn’t anticipate that even small changes in their ranking can have a big impact on their organic mobile search results.
The survey reveals inconsistent effects are being felt by businesses, which has resulted in confusion and concern. When a business has optimised for mobile then drops three places, it’s understandable that they feel angry that they have acted on Google’s warnings and yet have still experienced a negative impact.
With more than 200 Google ranking factors, many businesses may have dropped in the organic search results when a competitor optimised for mobile because they were better optimised for some of these other ranking factors.
The survey also uncovered a worrying lack of understanding in the SME community of ecommerce analytics. Many consumers today will research on mobile then go onto purchase on desktop. Many SMEs are missing out on these lead creation opportunities if they don’t know whether their ecommerce sites aren’t giving their potential customers a good experience on mobile.
For more information about our survey and media requests, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alternatively, if you’d like to discuss the effect of Google’s mobile algorithm update on your website, speak to us today.
Samantha Noble is well known within in the search industry, she even won the UK Search Personality 2016 at the UK Search Awards in November. This year, she continues to make an impact on the industry by judging not only one, but three, prestigious industry awards.