On April 21st, 2015, Google rolled out changes to its algorithms in an update dubbed as ‘Mobilegeddon’.
Involved in this update was a change to the ranking of websites that weren’t optimised for the mobile web. Any websites that were not mobile friendly saw their rankings decrease in the mobile web results.
At the time of the release, over 50% of the websites of Fortune 500 companies, and over 29% of e-commerce companies did not have mobile websites. So, as you can probably tell, the update caused a lot of panic for many companies. Now, over a year later, we are still seeing many company websites and e-commerce stores who have still not optimised their websites for mobile responsiveness. These websites are being hit hard in the mobile search results, and really need to make a change.
Keep reading to find out why optimising your website for mobile devices is so important.
Mobile Friendliness Has Always Mattered
Ever since the first smartphone was released, there has been a need for websites to be viewed easily on them. If you’ve ever visited a website that isn’t optimised for a mobile device, you’ll know how hard it is to read the text, place an order, or even use the search bar. Many users end up feeling frustrated and back click only to end up on a competitor’s website.
According to research performed by InMobi, 60% of internet traffic now arrives from mobile devices. If your website isn’t optimised correctly, that’s 60% of your customers who are back clicking and using the sites of your competitors instead. That’s a lot of potential customers and sales that you can say goodbye to… possibly for good.
In addition, having an un-optimised website can lead to problems with your SEO. Two of the main things that Google considers when determining a webpage’s ranking are click back and bounce rate.
- Click back is when a user visits a webpage, determines it’s irrelevant or sucks, and clicks the back button to return to the search engine results page. Google takes note of how long a user is on a webpage before they back click.
- Bounce rate is similar, but instead of a user clicking back to the search results, they land on a new page by writing a new URL into the search bar or clicking on one of the links on your page.
Keeping in mind these two factors, if your website is frustrating for mobile users, they will either click back to the search engines (a bad thing), or bounce to another site (another bad thing). Google tracks the timings of both of these factors, and the quicker a user leaves your site, the more trouble you will be in.
How Did Mobilegeddon Affect Companies?
Moz.com’s Dr Peter Meyers began tracking URLs to find out how the mobile search results had been affected. He did this by measuring how many search results with the ‘mobile friendly’ tag appeared on the first page of the Google search results.
MOZ.COM: % MOBILE-FRIENDLY TAG RESULTS (PAGE 1)
As you can see from the table above, the number of mobile friendly websites being displayed on the first page of Google increased after the update was unleashed.
Although the increase doesn’t seem too drastic on the chart, it did cause a lot of brands to fall off the first page of Google for their search terms. Not only did this have an effect on their traffic, but it also significantly affected their conversion rates.
At the time of the update, Google did announce that the update would not have any effect on search rankings performed by laptop or desktop users. This led many to assume that the update was related to a mobile crawler, and that there would be more changes in store for the mobile search results. Although this could be seen as a positive by many site owners with un-responsive websites, it is important to keep in mind the amount of traffic that visits websites using mobile devices. The update also makes clear how much attention Google is now paying to improving their mobile search results, and it is believed that in the future many more mobile friendly updates will be unravelled.
Is Your Website Mobile Friendly?
If you are unsure whether your website is optimised for the mobile web or not, you can use Google’s Mobile Friendly Test to find out. Google also has a list of tips that you can implement on your site if it isn’t performing as well as it should.
The increase of mobile users has sparked a new trend in website designs. Minimal pages with lots of whitespace look great on mobile, and can let the visitor on the move consume the information as quickly as possible. Consider using a single page website or evaluating how your website elements handle a restricted space in regards to their impact.
In conclusion, if you have still not optimised your website for the mobile search results, it is now something that you should do as a matter of urgency. As mobile traffic continues to increase on mobile devices, it makes sense that Google will place more importance on the need for mobile users to view websites clearly and with minimal frustration. And, if you don’t make your website mobile responsive, it’s likely that a lot of traffic will end up on your competitors’ websites. Is that really what you want?