25 Mar Aftermath of Google’s Mobilegeddon

When Google announced the launch of its new mobile ranking system, dubbed Mobilegeddon by the press, everybody agreed that the impact would be devastating on those businesses that didn’t have a mobile web presence. At that time, we conducted a study of the top 10,000 sites from Alexa and showed that four out of ten sites would be affected by Google’s update.

Eight months into the apocalyptic event, we repeated the study because we wanted to measure and understand the real proportions of such an important development. We crunched the data and discovered some interesting findings — this article details the most significant ones.

25% OF WEBSITES WITHOUT ANY PREVIOUS MOBILE STRATEGY HAVE MADE THE SWITCH

An unprecedented demand has been unleashed on the web for a swift solution to Google’s move and, as anticipated, site owners have responded with urgency and approached the situation in various ways.

25% of the websites surveyed that didn’t appear as mobile-optimized in April 2015 have since gone on to implement some kind of mobile optimization strategy. Of these, the majority — 85% — have used responsive web design to go mobile.

Another 11% chose adaptive (using the same URL regardless of device, but generating HTML code dynamically by detecting the browser’s user agent), while only 4% went for a separate web address for their mobile version.

25% of the websites that were not mobile-optimized in April 2015 have made the switch. Out of those, 85% have chosen responsive web design as their strategy to go mobile.

3 OUT OF 10 WEBSITES STILL OBLIVIOUS TO GOOGLE’S MOBILE RANKING SIGNAL

The trend is pretty clear and it is to be expected that the number of non-mobile optimized websites will drastically decrease in 2016.

As a general rule, regardless of the category, if a site doesn’t have a mobile web strategy, chances are it won’t go for an application either. You’d expect it to be the other way around, but if site owners ignored all previous mobile web strategies at their disposal, would they really be open to a more laborious and expensive approach (apps)? Not really.

IS THE MOBILE WEB HEADING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION?

Quantitatively speaking, the answer is a resounding yes, since Google’s announcement on April 21, 2015 triggered a 25% increase in mobile web adoption. If we take into consideration the effort for a better, more efficient web, it is worth mentioning that the average PageSpeed Insights score increased by 3%, meaning websites are now better optimized.

This number alone is not enough to conclude that mobile websites nowadays are faster. However, before Mobilegeddon, only 17% of websites had a PSI score greater than 60; afterwards this percentage grew to 22%. It was also interesting to see how the scroll height ratio increased by 17% in the last eight months, which means that mobile websites are nowadays a bit taller (almost seven screens) than they were in April 2015.

It seems clear that the main priority for businesses at this point is to have a mobile web presence, regardless of its configuration. Efficiency falls back to second place and perhaps another Google cataclysm of equal magnitude might rebound in focus things like page speed and load time. And we’re not that far off!

There are rumors that the big G is planning further changes to how its search results are displayed. The possible addition of a red slow tag (or “Slow to Load” message as reportedly being tested in mid-2015) to name and shame sites that are heavy and slow to load would certainly qualify as the second stage of Mobilegeddon – which I think was the grand plan all along!

Since browsing on mobile devices has already surpassed desktop browsing, it is now definitely the time to start thinking in terms of mobile first if you don’t do it yet. RWD, which without a doubt is now mainstream, is all about adapting a desktop website to fit on smaller screens. But, from a business perspective, mobile users shouldn’t be punished with heavy websites and features that don’t belong on smaller screens just for the sake of keeping mobile and desktop under the same umbrella. Specific targeting through dynamically serving content by taking into consideration the user’s device can certainly create a better user experience and an increase in conversation rates.

30% more websites with PSI score of over 60; the average mobile site height equals now almost seven screens; the average mobile page weight is over 3MB.

WHERE TO GO FROM HERE?

It is encouraging to see a big increase in mobile web adoption and Google has definitely proved it has the last word when it comes to SEO. Responsive web design is the big winner of the go-mobile race and will most likely continue to gather the spoils.

However, the websites’ owners willingness to go for the easiest solution shows that the majority of them are still not taking advantage of specific mobile web opportunities, but rather trying to avoid losing business. Old habits die hard and although a mobile-first strategy is not a novelty (after all, mobile games have been doing it for years), other industries are still slow to adapt.

The mobile web has a lot of room for growth when it comes to strategies, user experience or conversions. The new .app top-level web domain together with WordPress’s REST API and the emerging JavaScript frameworks could definitely push things in the right direction. This year we might see a new development on the mobile web, a wave that will take us beyond responsiveness and into the promised land of web apps.

 

Check out the full article from Smashing Magazine here.