Has the Google mobile update affected you?

21 May 2015 | Tom Chapman

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Tom Chapman

Blog Author | Vertical Leap Digital; Content specialist


Unless you’ve been living under a rock these past few months, you will have probably heard about Google’s mobile update. Implemented on the 21st of April, this change in the search engine’s algorithms meant that a website’s “mobile-friendliness” would serve as an additional ranking signal. As a result, companies which failed to provide their customers with a mobile friendly website likely saw reductions in their traffic.

 

Unless you’ve been living under a rock these past few months, you will have probably heard about Google’s mobile update. Implemented on the 21st of April, this change in the search engine’s algorithms meant that a website’s “mobile-friendliness” would serve as an additional ranking signal. As a result, companies which failed to provide their customers with a mobile friendly website likely saw reductions in their traffic.

Reactions to this update have been mixed but the media’s general response has been an extreme one. The Mirror, for example, described the update as "mobilegeddon" and claimed small websites would be destroyed by Google's changes. 

However, did this update really destroy small businesses? Although it is largely too early to tell, this blog will look into the initial effects of the changes and help determine the truth.

 

Why would Google do this?

Much like Penguin and Panda, Google doesn’t make changes in its algorithm maliciously; the search engine makes these alterations because they are necessary. Showing changes in online habits, Text Local, a telecommunications company, stated that 80% of handsets sold are smartphones and almost 50% of owners use these devices for online browsing.

Furthermore, according to a Google survey, more than 70% of mobile users felt a website’s ‘mobile-friendliness’ was an important factor. If a website was not optimised for their needs, almost 80% stated they would go somewhere else.

Therefore, this update is not about preying on companies but instead ensuring a better quality of service. In fact, by adhering to Google’s requirements for more modern browsing, both customers and companies will likely benefit.

 

The effects of this update

Not including those talking about “mobilegeddon”, individuals predicating the ramifications of this update were expecting millions of firms to initially suffer. For example, despite experts urging organisations to provide a mobile-friendly website, Tech Crunch reported that more than 40% of businesses in the Fortune 500 had not done so and, therefore, could be penalised.

Initial results suggest they weren’t wrong.

According to analysis conducted by Econsultancy, there are some clear winners and losers of the mobile update. British Airways is one organisation which appears to have been penalised by the search engine. Several pages on their website, for example, have been designed for desktop browsing and the data shows their position in the rankings declined following the update’s implementation.

Meanwhile, Asda provided their customers with mobile friendly webpages and it appears they benefited from the changes. Instead of showing a decrease, the update seems to have boosted several of the company’s sections. 

Other organisations are also reporting similar results. Generally speaking, it seems that those who were prepared for the update are seeing traffic boosts while those who ignored the changes are now being penalised. 

However, it is worth noting that ‘mobile-friendless’ is only one of many ranking factors. Potentially, these results could be down to other reasons, such as companies making rushed changes to their websites to make them more mobile friendly; without properly thinking these decisions through.

 

What should I do?

If you want to find out if your website is mobile friendly, then Google has a convenient tool which can assess it and make recommendations. Furthermore, if your website is optimised for mobile devices, you should be able to capitalise on this update to hopefully enjoy some enhanced visibility over your competitors. 

One thing is absolutely certain though; with one third of customers expected to use smartphones by 2018, companies must start providing mobile-responsive websites if they don’t want to be left behind. 

On a lighter note, I have good news for Capacity Magazine; according to Google, it's mobile friendly and should be just fine.