Owners of websites are starting to see impact from Google's recent algorithm update known as "mobilegeddon," which launched on April 21, 2015. The major impact of this algorithm update is that mobile devices now have very different search results than those displayed on desktop browsers. The reason for this change is to ensure users on mobile devices have a consistently positive experience.

Google's decision mostly considers "mobile friendliness" of a site. Prior to its release, Google prepared website owners with a handy FAQ, communicating that the changes were being rolled out throughout the course of 1-2 weeks. Although desktops and tablet search results are not affected, almost 50% of searches are now performed on mobile devices, so this algorithm change could have huge impacts across the mobile spectrum.

According to Marketingland, only 11.8% of the top 100 websites are responsive, which is one of the reasons Google is changing their approach. If you consider the mobile web experience, it's not surprising Google had to make a change -  57% of users say they won't recommend a business that doesn't have a mobile-friendly site, and 40% claim they have chosen a competitor because they had a mobile-friendly site. Mobile websites often don't provide enough information either, with over half of users complaining of this problem, and becoming frustrated.

Winners and Losers

Now that we're nearly a week removed from the initial launch of the algorithm, we're starting to see impacts on mobile search results, and some of the winners and losers are becoming clear. Companies like Searchmetrics have started evaluating sites and watching their search results fall due to the mobile impact and have created active lists of who's gaining and who's losing page rank due to the changes.

Winners:  GQ.com, Washingtontimes.com, TV Tropes, Entertainment Tonight, Foreign Affairs, imgur, Mother Jones, PC Gamer, and Newsweek.

Losers: Major sites like last.fm, Reddit, NBC Sports, SongLyrics, Bloomberg Business, Fool, Census.gov, and walmartstores.com.

Interestingly, Reddit and NBC Sports have native apps, so mobile-optimizing their sites may be considered unnecessary by their executive leadership. They have technically made the transition to mobile, and yet are still seeing search visibility losses because their websites aren't considered mobile-friendly.

Should You Optimize? 

This change leaves many business owners worried that they'll need to start making expensive changes to make their websites responsive or mobile-friendly. I've talked to several website owners who are concerned that making changes could have unintended consequences, and most wonder how much impact such changes will really have on their business.

My advice is that if you have a large millennial audience, you should absolutely make changes to become mobile-optimized. If you're tracking your site visits, check to see where most of your traffic is coming from. If you're seeing an uptick in mobile traffic, mobile-optimization may actually increase your overall conversion rates.

Not sure if your site is mobile friendly? Take the Mobile Friendly Test from Google.


April 27, 2015

Jayson DeMers is the founder & CEO of AudienceBloom, a Seattle-based content marketing & social media agency. You can contact him on LinkedIn, Google+, or Twitter.

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Search Engine Guide > Jayson DeMers > Mobilegeddon: Is Your Website Visible on Mobile Searches?