Bluetext was one of the first agencies to sound the alarm for mobile-optimized websites after Google tweaked its search algorithm in late April. Dubbed “MobileGeddon” by SEO experts, Google announced that it would now reward mobile-friendly sites in search results that were coming from mobile devices. The only question in the minds of search marketers was how much of an impact this would have, or whether it was more of a bluff.
The results are in, and this was no bluff! According to a survey by Moovweb, having a mobile-friendly site is absolutely essential in the SEO competition for search result rankings. Moovweb tracked more than 1000 important keywords across a range of industries over a six-week period to see if Google was serious. Here is a snapshot of the results:
• 83 percent of the key words returned a mobile-friendly website as the top result.
• In 81 percent of the cases, the top three rankings went to mobile-friendly sites.
• When looking at all 10 of the search results that make up the first page of a Google search, 77 percent were mobile-friendly.
In other words, if you aren’t mobile-optimized, the odds of landing towards the top of a search, or even at the bottom of the first page, are very low. And for any company that relies on search to drive leads, conversions or outright sales, that can be very costly. According to recent report on CNN Money, the fall from the top can be precipitous:
• The top spot on a search result receives 20-to-30 percent of the page’s clicks;
• Spots number two and three produce five-to-10 percent of the page’s clicks;
• Any results below the fold attract less than one percent of the clicks;
• If you’re on the second page or lower, your clicks from search will be negligible.
The survey results can be interpreted as the glass being half full and as the glass being half empty. It’s impressive that such a high percentage of results returned mobile-friendly sites, demonstrating that companies with a lot at stake were able to quickly meet the Google requirements. That might be partly explained by Google’s early warning to the market that it was making this change—a heads up that Google has rarely given previously when it comes to search algorithm revisions.
On the other hand, who are the companies that show up in the 17 percent of the top results where sites are not mobile-friendly? The survey doesn’t say, but those brands may not be there for long. As the impact of the algorithm changes continues to be felt, those numbers will all climb towards 100 percent.
What’s interesting about the results when broken down by industry is that some sectors are more advanced than others, at least based on this survey. For example, retail has the highest percentage of mobile-friendly sites ranked in the number one spot for the keywords that Moovweb reviewed. That makes sense, as retailers have been early adapters in the mobile commerce world where the competitive stakes are so high. Close behind are healthcare, insurance and travel and hospitality.
Lagging far behind are the education and transportation verticals. These markets may simply not be as competitive in terms of SEO and are behind on the “mobile maturity” curve. Yet, as the use of mobile devices increases and search engine results become more important and more competitive in these lagging markets, organizations without a mobile-optimized platform will be left behind.
Here’s the bottom line: MobileGeddon is real, and the effects are being seen as well as felt. Even small changes to Google’s search engine algorithm can have a huge impact on a brand. The CNN Money report cites one company that had to lay off 10 percent of its work force because of its slide down the search result pages. Mobile matters, and that will only become more apparent over time.