How To Tell If You Were Hit By Google's Mobilegeddon Update

Adrianna Mieras

Senior SEO Strategist

With a name like Mobilegeddon, Google’s last update had to be big. All the hype surrounding the mobile-friendly update sent many webmasters into a frenzy, particularly those who knew their mobile websites could probably be better. And with estimates that 40% of top websites could be affected by the update, Mobilegeddon meant serious go time.

But now that April 21 has come and gone, many marketers are wondering how to determine if they were hit by the latest update, and if so, how hard.

Surviving Mobilegeddon

There’s no doubt that things have cooled off since April. Visions of burning buildings, explosions and giant mobile phones towering through cities have subsided - at least for most of us. In fact, some companies have reported that they haven’t seen much change at all. So was Google’s update really as big of a deal as we all thought? Is there more to come?

It’s true that the update hasn’t proven to be nearly as considerable as it was implied to be. One reason for this is because many marketers did take the time to test their sites and work out usability issues before the update was rolled out. But having a mobile-friendly website remains an important initiative for your business, regardless of what changes Google is making.

Today, being online means being on a mobile device, not sitting at home on a desktop computer. If you’re focusing on the desktop experience, you’re only meeting the needs of an extremely small portion of your customers. According to one study, Google accounts for over 90% of global organic search traffic. In addition, a mobile-friendly website means that your visitors are 46% less likely to browse your competitors’ websites and 30% less likely that they’ll abandon your site altogether. Being mobile friendly is to your benefit, not Google’s.

So how can you determine if you were hit by Mobilegeddon? We’ll walk you through three easy steps to get the answers you’re looking for.

Step #1: Conduct a Mobile SEO Audit

A mobile SEO audit ensures that Google can correctly identify and serve your mobile content, regardless of whether your site is mobile friendly or not. Begin the audit by validating your site with Google’s mobile friendly test tool. Simply plug in your web page URL, and the tool will report if the page has a mobile-friendly design.

You may also view Google’s mobile usability report in Webmaster Tools to determine if there are mobile usability issues you are unaware of. Some of the most common issues include inconsistencies with font size, touch elements that are placed too closely together and Flash usage.

Finally, check Google’s crawl errors report to see if there are any problems that Google has when crawling your site. It’s possible that crucial segments of your site are being blocked or some pages are returning 404s. Once you identify where the issues are coming from, you can either block or unblock them.

In addition to finding potential problems within your site, it’s also beneficial to look into how Google’s smartphone crawler sees your most important pages. Speed is a key ranking factor, so plug in your pages’ URLs to determine their speed using Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool.

As for understanding how Google sees your site, use the Fetch as Google feature in Webmaster Tools. There are two options: a quick check and a deeper view. Some of the things you want to look for are that your content is accessible, site pages are set up correctly and SEO elements are being crawled.

Once the audit is complete, you’ll have a better understanding as to how mobile friendly Google sees your site.

Step #2: Evaluate Traffic Patterns

In Google Webmaster Tools, you can identify the top queries that bring users to your site, and the top pages that they are brought to. When looking at the Search Queries report, there are a few questions that you should ask yourself.

  • Are the top queries and pages in mobile search consistent with those in desktop search?

  • Are users searching for information in the same way as desktop users?

  • Are there any queries that have high CTRs despite not being ranked in top positions?

  • Which search queries and pages are trending upwards in rankings? Trending downwards?

By answering these questions, you can learn more about your mobile traffic, how they are getting to your website and their conversion rates. You can also learn about how users are interacting with your website compared to desktop users. Are they largely using your site in the same way, or are there clear differences between the two audiences?

Step #3: Determine Webpage Visibility

Use Google Analytics Mobile report (under Audience) to view the most popular mobile devices used by your visitors. Check the pages with the highest views, as well as those pages that were already identified with the highest mobile search results visibility, to see how they are viewed on the respective devices. You may use Device Mode from Chrome’s Developers to emulate various screen sizes and resolutions.

Look for inconsistencies between devices. Is your smartphone audience getting the same experience as your tablet audience?

Step #4: Establish Your Competitiveness

There are a number of tools available to help you discover keywords that your mobile competitors are using and ranking well for. Examples include SEMrush, SearchMetrics and SimilarWeb. If you choose to use SimilarWeb, you can also use their Mobile Web Traffic report to verify the trend of mobile visits to your competitors’ sites versus your own.

Organize a list of keywords that your competitors are ranking for, and then combine these keywords with the ones you are currently using. Your new master list of keywords will be more thorough and can be segmented into various categories where you can perform keyword research using Google’s Keyword Planner.

Thanks to the Planner tool, you can get suggestions for new keywords, view Mobile Trends and see a Breakdown by Device. The latter provides you with a closer look as to how mobile search trends and volume change over time. This allows you to prioritize your keywords based on their long-term potential.

Step #5: Monitor Performance

Continue to monitor and track your performance using the keywords. Determine where your pages are ranking for these keywords, and keep an eye on your competitors. Which keywords are they ranking for? The objective is to spot any differences between your site and your competitors’ and fill in the gaps. You may also take advantage of custom alerts in Google Analytics, which will alert you when there are decreases and increases in mobile traffic.

Conclusion

By completing the above five steps, you can get a clearer picture as to whether or not your site was affected, and if so, how you can improve it. Even if you haven’t noticed any changes after Mobilegeddon, it’s still beneficial to know if there are issues lurking on your mobile site. It’s easy for these to go unnoticed until you do the back work to find them.

According to Boostability’s Director of SEO, just 4% of websites were adjusted to be mobile friendly in lieu of the update. Also, many websites have reported no change in their rankings. So as big as Mobilegeddon was, the aftermath was not as detrimental as we would have assumed earlier in April. This is good, considering we may not have known what to do if massive smartphones started crushing buildings.

That being said, the impact of Mobilegeddon is not what should be motivating us. The need for quality, mobile-friendly websites is essential for businesses, and you should continue to make enhancements to ensure you are meeting the needs of your mobile audience. So don’t just do a good job when someone is watching. Do a good job because you care about your mobile audience and their experience with your brand.

 

About the Author: Adrianna Mieras

Adrianna is an SEO Strategist at SEMGeeks. She holds a BA in Communication Studies with a concentration in Digital Communication, Information and Media from Rutgers University. She takes pride in her work and thrives off of "position one" success. Born and raised at the Jersey Shore, Adrianna spends her free time riding her bike along the beach and swimming in the ocean. She has a passion for people, places and new experiences. It is rare to find her without a smile on her face.

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