Has The Google Mobilegeddon Update Really Changed SEO Results?

You may remember a blog post we wrote a few weeks ago about the impending "Mobilegeddon," a Google update that began penalizing websites for not being mobile-friendly on April 21, 2015. Now that the Mobilegeddon update has happened, what has changed in the search engine optimization landscape? Are mobile-friendly or responsive websites REALLY essential for SEO? Is Google's Mobilegeddon making an impact?

Yes. Some brands feel the impact from Mobilegeddon already.

Only a few days into the algorithm update, some websites began feeling its impact. Searchengineland.com began compiling a list of winners and losers from "Mobilegeddon," which included popular sites like Reddit, NBCSports and Bloomberg - all of which did not test as mobile-friendly before the update - on the losing end.

The same website also noted that Moz.com, another popular but not mobile-friendly site, fell from first place in the keyword "SEO" to second. That may seem like a small change, but could have a significant impact: studies show a drop in web visits of up to 20% for sites falling from first to second in the results of popular results.

In compiling its own rankings of winners and losers four days after the update, Searchmetrics.com noted that sites like Reddit and upworthy.com dropped up to 38% in mobile search results, signifying the significant impact Mobilegeddon has had on some brands and their websites (when searching from a mobile device).

But the mobile-friendly penalty is still occurring...

At the same time, we haven't reached the end of Mobilegeddon yet. According to Marketing Land, 70% of web marketers noted that they have not seen Mobilegeddon impact their website in any shape or form. That's in line with Google's initial announcement that caused such a stir, when the company noted that the update would begin on April 21 but be rolled out over the next following weeks. 

The continuous rollout is probably also why most web masters don't seem to be as concerned about Mobilegeddon as they were just a few weeks ago. But should they be? Answering that question depends entirely on the current state of your website. 

With Mobilegeddon now an SEO reality, what do we know about Google's update? Above all, initial reports and studies show that its impact is more gradual than initially feared. As of today, significant losers in traffic like Reddit and Upworthy seem to be in the minority, despite the fact that 46% of Fortune 500 companies were deemed not mobile-friendly by Google's internal checking tool.

Of course, that doesn't mean these 46% - or any other website that's not optimized for mobile devices - should rest easy. In fact, it means quite the opposite.

If a major site like Reddit or Moz can be that negatively impacted, it could happen to your site as well. Because this update is different from past algorithm changes like Panda or Penguin, which penalized active wrong-doing to circumvent Google's algorithms, it seems like the search engine is giving websites more time than in the past to adjust their websites before moving to penalties. But more time for adjustments doesn't mean those adjustments should be ignored. 

In fact, we are willing to bet that the amount of websites penalized for not being optimized for mobile devices will continue to increase within the next few weeks.

Why will more non-mobile sites be penalized?

It's crucial to remember that the reason for Google's update was to improve user experience, showing mobile searchers only results from websites that are easy to read and navigate on their device. As Panda and Penguin have shown, the search engine giant is not afraid to be strict when it comes to improving user experience. That's why we have little doubt that Mobilegeddon will eventually impact your website - either positively or negatively.

To ensure you're on the positive end of Mobilegeddon reactions, a mobile or responsive website is an absolute must. The good news: because of the gradual roll-out, there's still time for you to go mobile and avoid penalties! Contact us to see how compliant your website is, and how we can help improve it.