It’s been well over two months since I reported on the pending Google mobile friendliness algorithm announcement and over a month since Google placed it in market. The update which placed a higher value on mobile friendliness promised to deliver “significant impact on our search results” (n.b. in Google parlance “mobile” equates to “phone” and does not include “tablets”)
Not sure what Google was expecting to happen but the outcome so far has been anything but significant. From blog posts to, discussions with industry experts to my own professional observations there seems to have been very little impact on mobile search results; in the United States anyhow.
Across the pond in the UK, digital marketing agency, Koozai, conducted a study of 1,000 UK based small to medium enterprises (SMEs). 42% of those businesses claimed to have had a drop in rankings and/or traffic. Of the group reporting a drop in rankings/traffic, 22% claimed to have mobile optimized sites in place.
The Koozai study sounds fascinating but I do have some questions including ones on the collection and quality of the web analytics data being analyzed by the SMEs; particularly for those using Google Analytics (more on Google Analytics and data quality in an upcoming post). Reaching out to Koozai for the actual study. The link above is only to an article and I can't find the study on their site. I’ll report back when I get a hold of the report.
Back in the USA, in addition to my professional work, the anecdotal observations made in my personal life are leaving me with the impression that the algorithm update really did little.
With the unfortunate death of Nobel Prize winner John Nash and his wife Alicia, this weekend, I did a mobile search with the query: Game Theory. As you can see in the picture, the not mobile-friendly, GameTheory.net is the first result while the Google designated Mobile-friendly, Wikipedia.com entry was second.
My search query was not branded or navigational in nature. If it had been, based on what Google told us about the mobile update, GameTheory.net may have been the best top result. However, the query, was about as informational as you can get and my intent, was to get a basic definition.
Considering the informational nature of my query, that a mobile device was used and Google’s significant algorithm update in place, clearly the Wikipedia entry should have been in the number one mobile search result position.
Yes this is one small isolated example but it is also, in my opinion, a clear cut one of everything Google said would happen, not happening.
Here is another anecdotal observation. Quite a few of Google’s sites and pages don’t look like they should get a passing mobile friendly score. I have been doing some research on my phone of late and noticed more than one Google site that should not be considered “mobile friendly”.
I’ll be sure to screen capture examples of these sites in the future and share here.
Pure speculation but perhaps Google is making sure all their “mobile ducks” are lined up before opening up the throttle on the mobile friendly portion of the algorithm.
Silver lining? Yes there is a silver lining to this. The good news is that the threat of Mobilegeddon did spur a lot of websites to roll out mobile optimization. To paraphrase Martha Stewart, that’s a good thing…for everyone.