Mobilegeddon (Google Mobile Update)

What is Mobilegeddon?

Mobilegeddon is a Google Mobile Update rolled out in 2015. The aim of the changed algorithm was to increase the mobile-friendliness of websites, i.e. to increase the usability of these pages on mobile devices. Accordingly, mobile-friendly pages should be favored in the organic search terms and should rise in the ranking accordingly. The effects were so drastic that the term Mobilegeddon was used for the Google Mobile Update.

The goals of the Mobilegeddon

As early as 2015, Google received more searches from mobile devices than from desktop computers. To enable mobile users to fully utilize and serve the information found on the site, Google focused on sites that are optimized for mobile devices.

A second Mobilegeddon, a Google Mobile Update, was rolled out in May 2016 and received the designation “Mobilegeddon 2”. This was intended to give mobile-friendly websites a further boost in order to provide users with even more relevant pages in the search results.

What distinguishes mobile-friendly and responsive websites?

The two terms mobile-friendly and responsive must be clearly distinguished from each other. A responsive website is programmed in such a way that it automatically recognizes which device a page is requested and adapts to the device. However, responsive designs are not automatically mobile-friendly. In addition to scaling and adaptation to different mobile devices, other technical requirements must also be met. These are not always automatically implemented by responsive design.

Relevant criteria according to the mobile geddon

The approach was unusual for Google because even before the roll-out, Google listed the requirements for mobile-friendly websites. The following four points are crucial:

  • Avoid Flash elements
  • The text must be large enough to be read without zooming in.
  • The size of the content must be adapted to the mobile device in order to avoid zooming and horizontal scrolling.
  • The distance between the links must be chosen so that users can easily select the desired link.

Google recommends using responsive designs. At the same time, the search engine also takes mobile-friendly content on hostnames or mobile website variants such as http://example.mobil.com into account in the results.

A website optimized for mobile users should also take other factors into account that are relevant for the user. These include valuable content and balanced page architecture.

The effects of the first Mobilegeddon

At first, it was not clear whether non-optimized websites should be punished and if so, how drastic this punishment would be. However, the impact was enormous shortly after the first update. Websites that were not or insufficiently optimized for mobile use lost about ten percent of their annual traffic. This was proven by studies in the Adobe Digital Index, among others.

In addition, the non-optimized websites after the mobile geddon lacked the already introduced “For Mobile Devices” award in the mobile search results.

The Google Mobile Update rating of websites is separate for each page or URL and is completely independent of desktop performance. The differences between mobile and stationary visibility were correspondingly large.

Google tool for website analysis

In early June 2016, Google released a tool that allows websites to be tested in detail for their mobile friendliness. After entering the respective URL, the user receives information on mobile friendliness, desktop speed, and mobile speed. This is based on a rating scale of 0 to 100. In order to receive a detailed report, the user must provide an e-mail address. Up to three domains can be analyzed in this way every day.

This tool for the analysis of websites after the mobile geddon replaced the previous test. The new version penetrates deeper into the website structure during the analysis, while the previous tool was page-based and only checked the URL that was entered.

The development of the websites affected by Mobilegeddon

After the roll-out in 2015, only 24 percent of the websites proved to be mobile-friendly. One year later, it was already 58 percent. This more than doubled the number of mobile-friendly websites within a year. The solutions to the affected website operators were very different. 41 percent used mobile subdomains, 48 percent designed their websites responsively and seven percent used dynamic playout via different source code models.

Before the Mobilegeddon, only three-quarters of the Top 100 domains were mobile-friendly. After the update, the number increased to 90 percent. With the exception of a tiny two percent, these operators had a mobile page version. The Top 100 domains also showed differences in the solutions used. 40 percent had a mobile subdomain, 24 percent used a responsive design and 34 percent relied on dynamic playout.

The Mobilegeddon and the App Rankings

Websites can be shown in the mobile world via an app using an alternative system. App rankings have long been part of organic search results on Google. Renowned companies have now confirmed that Google search is one of the best sources for app downloads, that the use of apps is elementary for companies in terms of marketing, payment systems, etc. and that apps offer significant advantages over mobile websites in online shopping.

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