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How has Google’s mobile-friendly update influenced the internet?

By Jenna Cyprus     May 7, 2015 in Technology
We’re now a few weeks into what many in the SEO industry are calling Mobilegeddon – or Google’s newest algorithmic update that places a heavy emphasis on mobile-friendliness – and the effects for many companies and websites have been quite dramati
But, what specifically do we know at this point and what can we continue to expect in the months to come?
Google’s Mobile-Friendly Announcement
Let’s start with a quick refresher. On February 26, Google announced – via the Webmaster Central Blog – their intentions to tweak their mystic search algorithm in an attempt to enhance the overall search experience. According to SEO expert John Albin, “The purpose of the update is to make it easier for users to find high-quality, relevant search results that are optimized for their respective devices.”
What was so unique about this announcement was that there was an announcement to begin with. Very rarely does Google specify when or how they’re changing things; it typically just happens. This was the first hint that the change would be significant and impactful. Fast forward nearly three months later and many websites are now feeling the full effects of the update.
Go Time for Mobilegeddon
Google confirmed that it did roll out the algorithmic changes on Tuesday, April 21st and some webpages started noticing changes as early as April 22nd. However, those changes were fairly minor. It wasn’t until the beginning of this month that Google fully enacted the changes.
In the time leading up to the launch, Google reportedly saw a 4.7 percent increase in mobile-friendly websites, which is not an insignificant number. According to some, clear winners and losers are already emerging. Some of the sites hit the hardest include (with the loss in mobile SEO visibility noted in parentheses: Tested.com (-89 percent), Reddit.com (-27 percent), Fool.com (-27 percent), Census.gov (-23 percent), and NBCsports.com (-28 percent).
On the other hand, there are already plenty of winners in the days after Mobilegeddon. They include: ForeignAffairs.com (+771 percent), Tvtropes.org (+420 percent), GQ.com (+67 percent), Imgur.com (+32 percent), and WashingtonTimes.com (+21 percent).
Specific Takeaways and Notes
Many are wondering what’s happening, specifically. Most agree that the clearest trend among SEO visibility losers is that their homepages are failing Google’s Mobile Friendly Testing Tool (which has been readily available to the public for years). In other words, it’s highly unlikely that any of these sites are shocked by their drop off. They either chose to do nothing or failed to take Google’s announcement seriously.
Because the change was rolled out over more than a week and a half long period, it’s likely that winners and losers will continue to emerge. However, it’s quite clear that Google’s attempt to make the internet more mobile-friendly is already working. The key for businesses is to pay attention.
It’s also important to note that the demotion of non-friendly mobile sites is only for non-branded queries. Google is in the business of delivering accurate results and doesn’t want to surprise searchers by not delivering results they expect to see. Furthermore, the mobile-friendly update runs on a page-by-page basis. This means entire websites aren’t docked if all pages aren’t mobile friendly. Any page that’s made mobile-friendly will be rewarded, while those that are only optimized for desktop browsing will be bumped.
Feeling the Full Effects
While the first aftershocks of Google’s new rollout have certainly been felt across the web, the full effects won’t be known for quite some time. As more data pours in and case studies are analyzed, website owners and SEOs will be able to get a better read on the significance of this change.
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