How Google Mobilegeddon Is Changing The Way Businesses Attract Customers

Written by: Drew Lyon   Austin, Texas

Posted on: March 3, 2016


Google is made a major update to its mobile search algorithm that will change the order in which websites are ranked when users search for something from their phone. If you’d like to learn more about how a mobile website can make you more income and generate more web traffic go here.

The algorithm will start favoring mobile-friendly websites — ones with large text, easy-to-click links, or that resize to fit whatever screen they’re viewed on — and ranking them higher in search. Websites that aren’t mobile-friendly will get demoted. More than 45% of Fortune 500 companies and 29% of Internet Retailer 500 sites weren’t mobile friendly.

Now that the update has rolled out, here is an important thing you need to know:

  • Every website should be mobile friendly, even if most of their traffic comes from desktop. The update doesn’t apply to tablets or desktop, just smartphones, but everyone should make their site mobile friendly, because about 60% of search traffic now comes from mobile. “Statistics show that more people are going ‘mobile only’ — either because they never had a desktop or because they won’t replace their existing desktop,” Google writes in a blog post. “Additionally, a non-mobile-friendly site may not see many mobile visitors precisely for that reason.

Here’s something you already know: Google users rarely go past the first page of search results before choosing a site. If you’re not on the first page, you don’t exist (to search engine users). What’s more interesting is that a new study (The BrightEdge Mobile Share Report) shows an even more dramatic drop-off in click-throughs from Page One to Page Two when looking specifically at searches performed on mobile devices. The difference is significant. The chart below shows the change in CTR based on ranking position for desktop, smartphone, and tablet devices:

There are two big takeaways from this data: (1) People searching on mobile devices are considerably less likely to go past the first page, while at the same time, (2) more likely to choose one of the first three results.

This one-two punch means businesses hoping to capture meaningful mobile search traffic need to show up even higher in search results than previously believed. This is not all that surprising, though, because anyone who’s used a smartphone knows that a smaller screen means fewer visible results. Here’s what you see when you search “auto repair” on the iPhone:

Two ads, a map, and one local business listing (ZERO traditional search results). You actually have to scroll down the equivalent of several iPhone screens before you see the first non-map result (and that’s for Yelp, mind you). This one example captures many of the challenges facing SEOs today.

Personalized Search Results – For years, Google has been working to personalize search results based on location, past search habits, and more recently, the search habits of people in your online circles. Google+, Google Now, and a slew of other Google services are designed to give users information meaningful to them under the assumption that information varies in importance from user to user. Just because two people search the same keyword, they shouldn’t necessarily see the same results.

Hummingbird – The next major step in Google’s transition to a more personal or “live” search experience is the release of a major algorithm change called “Hummingbird.” This is a complete revamp of the way Google decides what information it displays to whom. It’ll be some time before we know the full ramifications of this change, but for now we know their stated goal is “pages matching the meaning do better, rather than pages matching just a few words.”

“Not Provided” Keywords – Last week Google announced it would be moving to encrypt keyword data for all users, meaning a higher number keyword visits will soon be labeled “not provided.” This caused a few SEOs to panic, fearing they would no longer be able to show clients substantial proof as to the effectiveness of their SEO efforts. But this irrational fear is closely tied to a misconception held by most SEO companies and their clients: that individual keyword rankings matter. They don’t. Search engine traffic is what ultimately matters.

How do we increase mobile search traffic?

Remember, mobile devices are always aware of two things: where you are and who you are. Your Google+ business page is your best friend when it comes to telling Google what types of search queries your business should show up for and what markets you do business in. Optimizing your G+ page includes filling out product categories, adding locations & hours, getting reviews and +1s, being in circles, and having a Google+ author profile associated to your website.

One of the main ways Google pesonalizes search results is by showing results based on friend activity. The more mobile users you get to Circle or +1 your G+ business page and interact with it, the more visible you are to more people—which results in more +1s and more interaction and more visibility. It’s a compounding effect.

Lastly, if you take another look at the iPhone screenshot, you’ll notice just how prominently Google Ads are featured atop the results. Combine that with the visual appeal of a clickable Call Button and you have a strong case for most businesses to use Adwords to generate mobile traffic.

A final word of caution: The results of the BrightEdge study should not encourage businesses and SEOs to put more emphasis on number #1 rankings for a narrow list of keywords. Instead, it should motivate you to diversify your SEO strategy and monitor how each change you make is impacting website traffic, not just rankings.  If you’d like to learn more about how a mobile website can make you more income and generate more web traffic go here.


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