Mobilegeddon. Like most disaster movies, it seems the previews were more terrifying that the full-length feature. No general howls of despair were heard. Yet that doesn’t mean it was without impact.

Here’s our round-up of a few different post-Mobilegeddon studies that looked at certain market or industry segments to see how they fared specifically.

How Mobilegeddon Hit SMBs

Koozai, a digital marketing firm, reviewed the impact of Mobilegeddon on 4,600 SMBs across four countries (US, Canada, UK, and Australia). Broken down by country, their research found that anywhere between 35 and 41 percent of respondents experienced a drop in rankings by at least three places.

However, they also found some inconsistency in that a fair portion of respondents, between 19 to 27 percent, saw their placements drop even though their sites were mobile optimized. Ben Norman, CEO and founder of Koozai explains his take on why optimizing for Mobilegeddon specifically may have been insufficient:

With more than 200 Google ranking factors, many businesses may have dropped in the organic search results when a competitor optimised for mobile because they were better optimised for some of these other ranking factors.

Take away from Koozai: SMBs may benefit from a deeper understanding of both the user’s mobile experience and the broader scope of ranking factors beyond one algorithm update.

 

What about the Big Brands?

Instead of running a broad survey, Decibel Digital took a closer look at some specific big brands to see how they fared.

They compared the post-Mobilegeddon experiences of two major car insurers and where they were ranking for “cheap car insurance”. Prior to April 21, 2015 (the day Mobilegeddon started it’s roll out), AA insurance company appeared on the first page of search engine results for “cheap car insurance,” but has since dropped back to the dreaded second page. In contrast, More Than, the other car insurance company, is now on ranking at the top of the results for the same search term.

Decibel Digital’s analysis: AA only had a few mobile-optimized pages, while More Than optimized its entire site for mobile.

Perhaps AA’s most critical error was making their home page mobile-friendly, but not their landing page. Anyone clicking on the big “insure my car” call-to-action on the mobile-optimized home page is taken to a landing page with a bad mobile user experience. More Than, using a responsive site, had a mobile-friendly landing page.

 

As Owain Powell from Decibel notes:

The AA are not delivering mobile-optimized sitewide experience. This can be seen affecting their search rankings as well, which is likely dinging traffic and site conversions too. … Search visibility affects UX and vice versa.

One related note: Larry Kim of Wordstream reports that searches on brand names themselves haven’t shown any significant changes. (Check out the same link for even more reviews of studies looking into Mobilegeddon’s impact.)

Battle of the Manufacturers

In another head to head battle, the folks at CWS, a web design and hosting company, looked at the experiences of two manufacturers. In this case, neither company was terribly well-set for mobile. Company A had a single mobile-friendly landing page. Company B was completely unresponsive to mobile.

Comparing each companies’ metrics from both the month prior and month after Mobilegeddon, they found:

  • both companies dropped in the search listings, but Company B’s drop was greater
  • in addition, the drop for Company B’s non-responsive pages was higher than the drop of Company A’s non-responsive pages
  • both companies experienced higher bounce rates, although Company B’s increase was 6x as much as Company A
  • Company B saw it’s mobile traffic decrease by nine percent, while Company A’s mobile traffic got a small bump – five percent

Pay Phone

Are you ready for all those phones?

Take away: Looking at both the big brand comparison and these two manufacturers, if you have to prioritize which pages get mobile-optimized, make sure your landing pages offer a good mobile user experience.

E-commerce Keywords

Mobile solution provider Moovweb looked at the first page results for over 1,000 e-commerce keywords to see what percentage had Google’s “mobile-friendly” tag. They found that 77 percent of all top 10 spots (the first page) had the “mobile-friendly” tag. The top spot was so-tagged 83 percent of the time, and then the percentages declined from there, with the tenth spot falling between 65 and 70 percent.

Their study of these e-commerce keywords started the week after the Mobilegeddon rollout and lasted for six weeks. Over that period of time, the percentage of first page results tagged as “mobile-friendly” stayed stable.

Since they didn’t compare this data to pre-Mobilegeddon results, we don’t know specifically whether these percentages have changed appreciably due to Mobilegeddon. As they explain in their post, sharing their findings:

…the nearly two-month warning Google provided, along with the tools to comply, was unprecedented. It’s therefore possible most top-ranking websites became mobile-friendly in time to retain their keyword positions by the time Google had finished rolling out their update, one week after April 21st.

Their study did confirm what Moovweb reported finding in other studies it’s done; namely, that different industries are at different levels of mobile maturity. For example, the keywords related to retail and healthcare industries had higher percentages of mobile-friendly pages in the top ten spots, between 75 and 80 percent. On the other hand, only between 65 and 70 percent of the top 10 spots for transportation and education-related keywords were mobile-friendly webpages.

Takeaway: As with many SEO factors, the relative competitiveness of the specific industry can result in very different experiences.

Where to go from here

First is to recognize that there are circumstances that make assessing the full impact of Mobilegeddon challenging. First, Google’s long lead time and recommendations provided a lot of opportunity for sites to improve their mobile optimization. Second, Google rolled out a Search Quality Update during Mobilegeddon, which makes it hard to attribute results to a specific cause.

mobilegeddon saviour

So the lack of broad-based significant impact doesn’t mean that optimizing for mobile isn’t vital to grow, or even maintain traffic. Two SEO industry observers have noted that Gary Illyes, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, has mentioned both the increases in smartphone search and volume of mobile traffic into YouTube when alluding to future changes prioritizing mobile optimization in search results.

So head’s up on improving your webpage and landing page mobile-friendliness.

There may be a sequel…

(there’s always a sequel).