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Mobilegeddon: What we have learned

Smartphone Google

THREE weeks since Google’s mobile friendly algorithm update was rolled out, there are significant changes visible in the data.

While the rankings did not alter immediately when the update was deployed on April 21, we do now have a preliminary list of “winners and losers”, as well as other observations about the most significant algorithm change since Panda and Penguin.

The winners and losers

Topping our list of winners for overall gain is Harvey Norman.

Prior to the update, Harvey Norman ranked below the fold (from five to 10) for the majority of television-related search queries.

Now it’s No.1 for most keywords, including the all important “Smart TV”.

Melbourne-based four-wheel-drive company ARB has an excellent mobile-friendly website, and it experienced improvement for 17 of its most important keywords such as “Hilux canopy”.

Another winner was credit report agency Veda, which experienced a ranking rise for 34 keywords. And that included the search terms “credit history check” and “credit history”.

Now for the losers.

Finance company IOOF.com.au last week ranked No.1 for “salary sacrifice calculator”. Now, you’ll have to search at least 10 pages to find it, mainly because the page has text that is too small to read.

While NAB passes Google’s Mobile Friendly Test, the data says it has lost ground for “home loans”, dropping from No.3 to No.8.

The reason for the drop is open to conjecture, but it’s worth remembering that Google analyses the responsiveness of a website’s individual pages, not just the home pages.

The figures were revealed using the free search rank checking tool, Mobilegeddon Report.

Branded search unaffected

As expected, established brands that people search for by name have not been impacted by the change.

For example, if you search for internet provider TPG, it will rank highly regardless of the fact its website is not mobile friendly.

However small businesses, which rely on being found via keyword searches, have been hardest hit.

Update will keep evolving 

The initial mobile-friendly update is fully rolled out. However Google spokesman Gary Illyes said further mobile ranking signals would be added.

Although it was excluded from the April 21 algorithm, Illyes hinted that Google would soon use mobile page speed as a ranking signal.

User experience remains king

A new ranking factor has arrived, but that should not mean you ignore the existing ones.

There is still a primary emphasis on giving users the answers to what they are looking for.

That means that in some cases, if a site has a very high authority from Google’s perspective and offers the content best matching to the searcher’s request, then even if that site is not entirely mobile friendly, it could still rank as one of the top few results.

So, as a business, as you focus on creating a mobile-friendly experience for your site visitors, you should also understand that the content you produce should also be of a high calibre to ensure that Google rewards your efforts.

Rankings Penalties Are Not Permanent 

If you were hit by the update because your site wasn’t fully mobile-friendly, you can get your rankings back – easily – simply by optimising your site now.

It’s true that some historical points, such as the age of your domain, come into play, but in terms of where your site ranks, mistakes of the past have no bearing on where you rank today.

Few penalties or ranking changes from Google updates are permanent, so remember – there’s always time to recover.

TPG mobile site

Why Mobilegeddon is great for Google

Google not only ‘wants’ websites to be mobile-friendly.  It ‘needs’ them to be for the sake of its bottom line.

The Smartphone industry is now shipping nearly three times as many devices as the personal computer industry did at its peak.

And that means the future of digital advertising is on mobile devices.

The problem for Google is that Facebook, Twitter, and other rivals have given advertisers more compelling ways to reach people while they’re on the go.

Google’s growth has also been hurt by the rise in mobile app use.

So to protect its own revenue, Google needs users to have the best possible experience when surfing the web on a mobile device.


Unsure of how your website stands up to mobile or what you should do to go mobile friendly? We can help you prepare for April 21.