It’s now been a month since Google updated its ranking algorithms to prioritize mobile-friendly sites in results for searches made on mobile devices. Up until the rollout, professionals in the web design and search engine optimization industries were in a near-frenzy trying to predict the outcomes of the change and prevent their clients from being affected by “Mobilegeddon.”
But by all indications, the impact of the rollout has been far from apocalyptic.
“This algorithm update was less interesting than a replay of the Mayweather-Pacquiao bout or the release of another Greatest Hits Album from Queen,” Conrad Saam wrote wryly for major industry site Search Engine Land May 20.
Saam and his team did a small-scale study using data from 69 websites (all law firms) and tens of thousands of sessions to back up that assessment with figures. Of those websites, 12 were not mobile friendly, while the rest were.
They gathered traffic data for the sites and ran two statistical analyses on it. In the first analysis, the difference in traffic was not statistically significant. In the second analysis, the group that wasn’t mobile friendly actually slightly outperformed the mobile-compatible group, by around 2%.
What This Means for Mobile
The underwhelming impact of Google’s mobile-friendly update, however, shouldn’t be seen as an excuse for businesses to avoid optimizing their sites for mobile visitors.
It’s estimated that about 50% of people who own mobile phones use them as their primary source of Internet access, and Google announced just this month that mobile searches have officially surpassed desktop searches.
That means that even if businesses don’t see a major drop in traffic because of an SEO penalty, they still risk alienating prospective customers coming to their sites via mobile devices.
That, in turn, could hit conversion rates (calculated by comparing the number of total site visitors to purchases or leads) and businesses’ bottom lines. If Internet users land on a site that doesn’t work well on whatever device they’re using, they’re likely to simply hit the back button and move on to the next link in the search results.