What were the Consequences of the Google Mobile Update?
It’s been over 2 months since Google updated its algorithm to rank responsive websites higher in search results. Google stated that the update would be rolled out over the course of the week so we should be able to analyze the effects. Sure enough, some websites that didn’t convert to a responsive website in time saw their mobile rankings drop precipitously.
Probably the most shocking result from the Google Update was how hard some websites got hit. Even popular domains weren’t spared from the update. The table shows drops in ranking for certain domains following the April 21 update, and includes popular websites such as reddit.com, songlyrics.com, census.gov, and walmartstores.com.
The 4th column in the table is especially shocking. The metric “Ratio Mobile vs. Desktop” compares mobile rankings to desktop rankings. The lower the ratio, the lower the mobile rankings are compared to desktop. If we use desktop rankings as a benchmark, we can see that the sites listed are severely underperforming on mobile devices.
The worst part of the story for these websites is the effect this update will have on their website traffic. Many experts predict that people will soon perform more searches on mobile than on desktop. If a website were to drop in mobile rankings, their business could take a huge hit. Bargainist.com is a website that finds shopping deals and shares them with visitors. If their traffic were to drop, stores are less likely to offer them exclusive deals or advertise on their site.
Following the April 21 update, bargainist.com dropped 9 positions in Google’s rankings. This is a significant drop in rankings and it could have a serious impact on their bottom line.
The only silver lining is that most websites were already prepared. By April 19, 70% of page 1 URLs were already tagged as mobile-friendly.
It seems that most website owners took the Google update seriously and switched to a responsive design beforehand.
Overall, it seems Google has successfully converted many businesses to mobile-friendly platforms, but for those that held out, there are real consequences. For those with mobile-friendly sites, the April 21 Google Update came and passed without any change, but for those that didn’t convert to responsive design, the consequences were damaging.
Read these articles for more information on the April 21 Google Update.