Searchmetrics: Winners & Losers From Google’s New Mobile-Friendly Algorithm

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Search software specialist Searchmetrics has produced an early analysis of the impact in the US of Google’s mobile-friendly algorithm update that’s designed to increase the rankings of web pages deemed mobile-friendly (easier to view and navigate on mobile phones) in Google’s mobile search results. The analysis highlights some preliminary winners and losers from the update. You can view Searchmetrics’ data in the company’s blog post authored by founder and CTO, Marcus Tober.

The Searchmetrics analysis is based on a database of millions of keyword search results that the company analyzes on a weekly basis. Using this data, the company calculates an SEO visibility score (an index score which measures how visible and prominent a website is in search results) for both desktop and mobile searches (ie there are separate desktop SEO visibility and mobile SEO visibility scores). SEO visibility takes account of the following: the number of times a domain appears in the search engine results pages (SERPs) across the keyword set; its prominence within those SERPs (a higher ranking equates to a higher visibility score); and the competitiveness of the keyword (higher search volumes equate to a higher visibility score). Searchmetrics stresses that this has to be considered a provisional analysis as Google is still rolling out its update.

Below are some of the key findings:

· While Google suggested that the update would start rolling out on April 21st, Searchmetrics’ analysis indicates that it started having an impact the previous week.

· This preliminary analysis of the winners and losers of the Google Mobile Update shows some massive changes in the mobile search performance of some websites. And when these changes happen without big changes in desktop/computer search performance, they are very likely to be connected with the current Google Mobile Update.

· The list of sites thought to be ‘losers’ after the update, include online music site LastFM and online movie site, boxofficemojo.com. Interestingly when both these sites were tested using Google’s own testing tool (to help webmasters test their sites for mobile “friendly-ness”), both of the homepages tested as not optimized for mobile search either (see here and here).

· In the list of sites provisionally thought to be winners according to Searchmetrics are online encycopledia and dictionary site, encyclopedia.com. Again the Google testing tool says the page is optimized for mobile.

· Department store and online retail site jcpenny.com displays an interesting trend. The week before the official start of the Google mobile update, the domain dropped in mobile search performance, but in the week the update officially started rolling out, Mobile Visibility increased heavily while Desktop Visibility stays roughly the same. And again the domain is mobile-friendly

In the run up to the Google mobile update Searchmetrics carried out an analysis of how many of the top 100 most visible domains were ‘mobile-friendly’ using Google’s own testing tool (to help webmasters test their sites for mobile “friendly-ness)”. The result: as late as the beginning of April 2015, 16% had not been optimized for mobile devices. This included domains such as azlyrics.com, pbs.org, last.fm and nih.org.

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