Impacted By Google's Mobile-Friendly Update?

Chris CrumSearch

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On April 21, Google began rolling out its mobile-friendly update, which makes the mobile-friendliness of a site a ranking signal. It has largely become known as "Mobilegeddon" by publications with a flare for the dramatic, as this name was given to it before it even launched or its effects were even felt.

Were you prepared for the update? Was it "Mobilegeddon" for your site? Have you noticed any change (positive or negative) so far? Let us know in the comments.

As expected, Searchmetrics has released a list of winners and losers from the update. Given that the update likely hasn't finished rolling out yet, even Searchmetrics itself cautions that these are only preliminary results.

Following are the lists, which were first posted on Saturday.

The preliminary losers:

Domain Mobile SEO Visibility actual loss in percent Ratio Mobile vs Desktop
reddit.com 874108 -27% -36%
nbcsports.com 139213 -28% -40%
songlyrics.com 111042 -26% -47%
youngmoney.com 10602 -76% -77%
fool.com 78599 -27% -49%
isitdownrightnow.com 83067 -25% -49%
tested.com 3243 -89% -18%
sidereel.com 88851 -22% -44%
census.gov 71234 -23% -53%
onlinecreditcenter2.com 33026 -38% -39%
odir.us 75586 -21% -15%
boxofficemojo.com 39951 -33% -64%
schoolloop.com 50046 -27% -50%
interviewmagazine.com 42280 -31% -32%
locatetv.com 65460 -21% -53%
fnfismd.com 54730 -23% -30%
etymonline.com 25169 -39% -77%
reviewjournal.com 22769 -41% -40%
thinkexist.com 15514 -49% -68%
sciencedaily.com 45017 -23% -45%
majorgeeks.com 40374 -24% -53%
movie25.ag 16324 -44% -43%
thefind.com 2448 -84% -49%
megashare.sc 48082 -20% -64%
walmartstores.com 27157 -31% -31%
thefiscaltimes.com 4940 -71% -81%
brassring.com 38315 -24% -46%
google.es 5830 -67% -26%
epguides.com 32037 -27% -53%
krebsonsecurity.com 10451 -52% -42%
sheppardsoftware.com 39140 -22% -55%
upworthy.com 17146 -38% -26%
jobs.net 34174 -23% -31%
apples4theteacher.com 30268 -25% -34%
mmo-champion.com 2948 -78% -77%
webcrawler.com 36291 -21% -36%
moreofit.com 35610 -21% -46%
hid.im 14776 -40% -43%
webs.com 9237 -51% -54%
ft.com 27984 -25% -42%
paroles-musique.com 15220 -37% -62%
jcpportraits.com 14936 -37% -32%
lottostrategies.co 2717 -76% -63%
searchbug.com 8885 -49% -17%
usps.gov 33186 -20% -25%
ondvdreleases.com 4058 -68% -17%
barchart.com 10435 -44% -55%
genealogybank.com 26451 -24% -53%
sketchup.com 18633 -30% -19%
zeropaid.com 2550 -76% -74%
edx.org 13439 -37% -30%

The Preliminary winners:

Domain Mobile SEO Visibility actual gain in percent Ratio Mobile vs Desktop
tvtropes.org 290528 420% 23%
foreignaffairs.com 153528 771% 37%
gq.com 178364 67% 19%
w3snoop.com 104573 91% 108%
knowyourmeme.com 153154 32% 13%
bandcamp.com 272302 13% 12%
fbschedules.com 133754 31% 11%
washingtontimes.com 173354 21% 12%
ipaddress.com 89830 51% 71%
imgur.com 118307 32% 24%
free-tv-video-online.info 71972 65% 38%
quora.com 251746 13% 28%
lyricsmania.com 229221 14% 12%
foreignpolicy.com 56583 83% 18%
wtvr.com 43562 124% 67%
sports-reference.com 58155 65% 10%
refinery29.com 100977 29% 19%
macmillandictionary.com 150033 17% 12%
hitfix.com 75004 42% 28%
zacks.com 87375 33% 14%
motherjones.com 200106 12% 14%
dslreports.com 82131 32% 28%
allposters.com 67786 39% 11%
rt.com 89352 26% 10%
easycounter.com 38134 87% 15%
change.org 89739 23% 11%
newrepublic.com 129003 15% 15%
boostmobile.com 54172 40% 11%
stream-tv1.net 18126 548% 151%
newsweek.com 110915 16% 17%
iconosquare.com 93694 19% 31%
watch-series-tv.to 65776 28% 13%
websta.me 112232 14% 23%
800-numbers.net 76397 22% 23%
hypestat.com 30643 81% 172%
pcgamer.com 77815 21% 24%
nybooks.com 95426 16% 20%
advanceautoparts.com 90342 17% 25%
radio.com 53584 32% 11%
newmexicocriminallaw.com 13363 4012% 30%
mp3skull.to 35886 56% 143%
religionfacts.com 24257 107% 24%
thinkprogress.org 64598 22% 20%
wikimedia.org 92805 15% 28%
microcenter.com 41385 39% 13%
kochdavis.com 14444 408% 181%
mixcloud.com 32295 56% 89%
topix.com 114888 11% 12%
fox2now.com 35422 42% 23%
kcci.com 24271 75% 64%
grist.org 20662 100% 30%
stemfireandems.com 10752 2072% 49%
shazam.com 30850 45% 103%
eurogamer.net 45327 26% 49%

You can see SearchMetrics' findings in a PDF here. They're also updating data as the roll-out continues, so you can see the latest here.

The effects of "Mobilegeddon" do have the potential to be felt by many sites who haven't paid attention to Google's warning. The update was officially announced in February, and was hinted at for months before that. Google has given webmasters time to prepare.

Small businesses who don't have the time or resources to dedicate to making their sites mobile-friendly, or even pay attention to the latest happenings in SEO, are likely to be hurt by the update the most. All of that said, this is still just one of over 200 signals Google is taking into account when ranking search results on mobile devices. It's not everything. It's also on a URL-by-URL basis, and is supposed to update in near real time, so webmasters can fix pages over time, and potentially increase their rankings without waiting months for Google to recognize these fixes, as they have with some other updates.

Last week, Lawyer.com, a site which helps people find law firms, announced that it had analyzed the law sites in its database, and found that many of them will likely be affected negatively by Google's update. 46% of solo firms failed Google’s requirements, it said, while larger firms did a little better with a 33% failure rate.

The reality is that the update shouldn't affect any particular vertical more than the next. It's not like Panda where it is specifically looking at the type of content. It's strictly looking at technical elements that enable the content to be consumed on a mobile device with ease. Even if your content completely sucks, it can pass Google's mobile-friendly test. It may not help you with other signals, but that's a different story.

Last week, Google put its latest round of guidance related to the update. This included an FAQ. The important takeaways from that included:

– The update does not affect searches on tablets or desktops, and it’s a page-level change. Only mobile-friendly pages will be able to get a boost as a direct result of the change.

– Google determines whether or not a page is mobile-friendly every time it’s crawled, so webmasters won’t have to wait for another update after they fix a page for it to get the advantage of the signal. This also means that if you weren’t quite ready for the update today, it shouldn’t be that big a deal as long as you can still fix what need’s fixing.

– Google is saying now that the roll-out should take “a week or so”. You can’t determine whether or not you’ve been impacted on April 22.

– If your pages are designed to work well on mobile devices, but aren’t passing Google’s mobile-friendly test, it’s probably because you’re blocking Googlebot for smartphones from crawling resources like JavaScript and CSS. This is the most common reason that happens.

– You can still link to sites that Google doesn’t consider mobile-friendly without fear of repercussions.

“It’s not the best experience for mobile visitors to go from a mobile-friendly page to a desktop-only page, but hopefully as more sites become mobile-friendly, this will become less of a problem,” says Google’s Maile Ohye.

– Mobile-friendliness is assessed the same regardless of whether a site is using responsive design, separate mobile URLs, or dynamic serving.

– It’s naive to think you don’t need to worry about the signal because you think your audience is desktop-only. More and more people are using mobile devices more as time goes on. Even if they’re mostly desktop-only now, that doesn’t mean it will stay that way.

– Pages with the old style of object YouTube embeds may register as not mobile-friendly. Make sure pages are using the newer iframe embeds.

– For tap target size, Google suggests a minimum of 7mm width/height for primary targets and a minimum margin of 5mm between secondary ones.

You an also read this for additional guidance on how to improve your site's mobile-friendliness.

What do you think of Google's update? Has it made search results better? Let us know 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.