The Effects of Mobilegeddon – Mobile-Friendly vs User-Friendly

On April 21, Google unleashed their latest search engine algorithm update. This update focused on mobile-friendliness. In particular, how user-friendly and how easy sites were to navigate on mobile devices. If your site didn’t meet Google’s requirements, you were going to lose mobile rankings.Many of us in the industry dubbed this day Mobilegeddon due to the implications that once the update went live, many mobile-unfriendly sites would be negatively affected. So, are we in some kind of post-apocalyptic mobile wasteland? Did the mobile apocalypse actually occur?

Well if you follow a lot of the big SEO blogs, you will find that the consensus is that not much happened. Many web teams and SEO experts woke up on April 22 to find that the world continued on like normal. At least as far as the big brand sites go. But then again, many of these sites already had mobile-friendly versions.

But what about everyone else? What about all the local and regional businesses that are still trying to play catch-up to Google’s Rules for the Internet? Many of these businesses are our clients which we support and promote on a daily basis.

We decided to take a snapshot of some of our clients both before and after the Google update was released to see just how much they may have been affected by Mobilegeddon.

Search Engine Heaven?

First we took a look at sites that already were deemed mobile-friendly before the update went live. You’ll see that mobile-friendly sites got a pretty nice boost in rankings after the update went live. On average, the mobile-friendly sites that we work with saw an average positive rankings boost on tracked keywords of about 32%.Google Mobile Update Results

Or Search Engine Hell?

Here at Acumium, we promote a Mobile First philosophy. We encourage our clients to have mobile-friendly sites and to actively maintain and promote them. Mobile sites will continue to become an increasingly vital part of any online marketing strategy.

Unfortunately, we still have a few clients that have not made the switch. And to showcase how this update affected companies such as this, here are the results of this snapshot. As you can see, this audit shows that each case where we referenced sites that were desktop only saw a dramatic decrease in keyword rankings.
Google Mobile Update negative results

Meanwhile in Purgatory

Now we did notice something interesting on two additional clients, who saw different results than the clients mentioned above. According to Google’s recommendations, both of these sites would be classified as mobile-friendly. But regardless, they were still significantly hit by the update. Client A saw a 58% decrease in keyword rankings, while Client B saw a 27% decrease.

Despite playing ball with Google’s requests, these two were still hit hard. Why would that be? It may take some additional time to determine what exactly happened, but it is our initial opinion that even though these sites may have been technically sound, they didn’t fit the entirety of the mobile-friendly requirement.

Google had hinted that they would be looking at UX related items such as font size, text alignment, link spacing, etc. It is our impression that these two sites, although they had mobile-friendly sites, the poor user experience of these sites caused them still to be affected negatively.

Ultimately, the big takeaway is the Mobilegeddon did come. For some it was a rapturous day and they were given a positive boost for being mobile-friendly. Others certainly did see some penalties for delaying their switch to the new mobile landscape.

What Next?

Step one is to make sure you have a mobile-friendly site. That doesn’t necessarily mean a separate mobile site. In many instances experts recommend responsive over a separate mobile site. Step two is designing for mobile usability first. Make sure you don’t have too many things going on leading to thick fingers fumbling over where to click on your home page, as an example. Step three is constant testing and optimization. It’s important to keep a pulse on the health of your website and to be constantly trying to improve.


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