Google Update Bumped Down Half Of Pages It Threatened To

Chris CrumSearch

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Google released an algorithm update on April 21 that began taking the mobile-friendliness of a site into account when ranking that site in search results. It’s still just one of many signals Google uses, and it’s not as significant as relevance or quality, but it is clearly a factor Google is taking very seriously as more searches are performed from mobile devices than on desktop now.

The update was largely known as "Mobilegeddon" before it actually launched, but that name has been heavily questioned since then as the severity of its effects have been debated.

Was your site affected by Mobilegeddon? Have you seen any impact as time has gone on? Do you think the whole thing was overblown? Share your thoughts in the comments.

As Google's John Mueller put it, "While it’s had a fairly big impact across all the search results, it doesn’t mean that in every search result you will see very big changes."

Last week, we looked at a report from Koozai, which polled 2000 SMEs and found that 45% saw ranking changes, and 41% of those were concerned that they had seen a drop in rankings by at least three places and had noticed a drop in traffic as a result. Some of these saw as much as a 50% decline. 27% said they had seen a drop in rankings even though they had optimized for mobile. 37% were said to be concerned that the update might have an impact on sales, while 44% were not worried as they said most of their sales came from desktops.

12% were apparently completely oblivious to Google’s mobile-friendly test tool as they said they didn’t even know whether their websites were optimized for mobile or not. 49% said they didn’t know if sales on their desktops sites had initially come from visitors viewing their products or services on mobile.

Since then, we looked at a poll from Search Engine Roundtable based on a thousand responses. In that, only 11% said the update resulted in changes in their traffic or rankings, while on overwhelming 65% provided an absolute “no” response. 13% said “unsure,” and 11% said, “sometimes”.

The poll began on April 28, which was one week after the update launched.

“I don’t think the poll would change much today, in fact, I think that 65% number would be closer to 75% or 80%,” writes Search Engine Roundtable’s Barry Schwartz.

Now Eric Enge's Stone Temple Consulting has some research out looking at the effects of the update. According to that, nearly half (46%) of non-mobile-friendly URLs that help top 10 spots on April 17 lost ranking, while fewer than 20% gained. Other findings as relayed by Stone Temple include:

- For URLs that dropped in ranking, the drop for non-friendly URLs was more pronounced - an average of 2 spots - than for mobile-friendly URLs - average of .25 spots.

- Another significant effect was that URLs being favored for mobile-friendly sites are often different from the ones that ranked earlier.

- Overall, the study found a 1.3% increase in mobile-friendly URLs in search results. While this does not approach the impact of Panda or Penguin algorithm updates, this is the first such change by Google, and we expect more changes and an increased impact over time favoring mobile-friendly sites.

Enge had this to say in summary:

In summary, I’d suggest that the impact of this release was indeed significantly bigger than originally met the eye. The trade press did not see it as large because of the slow roll out, and the intervening Search Quality Update.

In addition, this is likely just the start of what Google plans to do with this algorithm. It is typical for Google to test some things and see how they work. Once they have tuned it, and gain confidence on how the algo works on the entire web as a data set, they can turn up the volume and make the impact significantly higher.

It’s my expectation that they will do that. In the long run, don’t be surprised if the impact of this algorithm becomes even greater, and that people will stop debating whether or not it was greater than Panda or Penguin.

Read the whole report here.

In other Google algorithm update news, the company says a Panda update will likely come within the next four weeks, and they're still working on making Penguin run continuously.

Check out our recent discussion with Enge regarding Google's partnership with Twitter here.

Now that it's been well over a month and counting, what do you think of the mobile-friendly update's impact on search results? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Image via Google

Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.