Predictions that Google’s April 21, 2015 search engine update would hurt websites not optimized for mobile devices have proven true. Since the launch, Google’s latest algorithm has promoted mobile friendly websites, placing them higher in mobile search results than sites that haven’t been designed to look good on smartphones.
The search company gives a boost in rankings to websites that load quickly on smartphones, have text large enough to read and can be accessed by scrolling rather than swiping back and forth. Google reduces the ranking for websites that are hard to navigate on the small screens of mobile devices.
The demotion for sites that aren’t mobile friendly appears to have led to a decrease in their visitors from smartphones. According to a recent study by Adobe Systems, traffic from mobile searches fell 12 percent for non mobile friendly websites in the months since Google’s update. The study analyzed data from 5,000 websites. It found the biggest drop in visits to non mobile friendly websites occurred during the Memorial Day weekend. The study hypothesized that many people were traveling and used smartphones to search online.
Google took the unusual step in February of announcing its planned adjustment and urging developers to optimize their websites. In its announcement, Google said the update in the ranking system would have a “significant impact” in mobile search results.
Some website operators and owners worried they wouldn’t be able to optimize their sites in time for the change. The algorithm tweak was given the hyperbolic moniker of “Mobilegeddon.” While fears spurred by the speculations seemed overblown to many, Google’s algorithm has had a measurable effect in search rankings, traffic and ad prices.
Some websites saw a drop in traffic by 35 percent in the month immediately after the update was rolled out, according to an analysis by the online publication Marketingland.com. Other studies and websites found little change in traffic after Google’s update.
As a result of falling visits, many website operators tried to bolster rankings by buying more mobile ads from Google. The increase in sales drove up the price of mobile advertising by about 16 percent during the second quarter compared to the same period in 2014, Adobe Systems found in its study.
Google ads are awarded by keyword auctions based partly on bids and partly on a website’s quality score. Since mobile friendliness is now more important in Google’s ranking standards, advertisers with optimized sites have a better chance of winning keyword ads.
Google’s updates are giving mobile users a better experience. These changes can benefit any business as long as their websites are compliant with the search engine’s standards. If you need help getting your pages ready for the mobile revolution, contact 121eCommerce for a consultation. We have the expertise to put your website in the hands of smartphone users.