Mobilegeddon—Nobody Showed up for Mobile Search Results Catastrophe

It has now been a week since Google began rolling out their new mobile-friendly filter for downgrading mobile search results on mobile devices. Barry Schwartz of reports today that many site owners report seeing little or no change at so far. Yes, there have been some changes, but overall little impact, nothing to compare with the effect of Panda.

Why was the impact so minimal? I’ve suggested in previous articles that the impact overall might not turn out to be that great, at least at the start. Here is a summary of some of the reasons:

  • In order to notice an impact on mobile results, you have to HAVE some real metrics for your website. The Constant Contact Small Data and Small Business Holiday Survey 2014 found that 64% of SMB’s used website analytics. We believe that the number of SMB’s making regular use of analytics is much smaller. People might not be checking often enough to appreciate the trends.
  • In market segments where competition is intense, a bizarre herd mentality can set in, i.e., nobody moves until someone takes the first step, then they all move. Hence there are some segments where none of the major players has a responsive website, so there will be no net change in results.
  • In some small markets, a very few players fight for a very limited number of search phrases. Any effect the filter may have on the results for those phrases will be down in the noise.
  • Mobile traffic in some segments is still small (although growing). Mobile results alone do not have that much of an impact.
  • Google does not roll these initiatives out everywhere at the same time. And it is quite likely that they will make changes to the filter as they observe it’s effect. So we might still see some real change in the near future.

All of the reasons above are actually good arguments for making the move to a responsive site before competitors do, or Google makes the filter more effective. However, as we have said before, there is no reason to panic. A website re-design is a good opportunity to look at the entire web presence and make a real effort to improve the effectiveness of online assets.