After The Google Mobile Update/Panic (Includes Ranking Report)

By Aaron Harding
Jaws panic scene

Bit of an overreaction to #Mobilegeddon in general from the marketing and web design community, there must have been a rush on meteor clip art going by what I’ve seen on Facebook and Twitter, along with some shameless exploitation by others.

Firstly, the after effects (if you even noticed)

Overall most have seen a modest change in rankings. For the sites I’ve built they’ve all experienced a slight uplift in general for mobile results, this includes new clients with mobile friendly websites and older clients without who’ve chosen not to upgrade just yet.

You can gain an idea from a small cross section of client sites shown below, all show the difference between today 1st May 2015 and two weeks previous, before the update, all for mobile search results.

Ranking changes after the Google mobile update

A(1): Client site, mobile friendly.
A(2): Client competitor not mobile friendly.
B: Client site, not mobile friendly.
C(1): Client site, mobile friendly.
C(2): Client competitor, not mobile friendly.
D: Client site, mobile friendly.

Honestly, I wouldn’t even advise trying to pick that lot apart as I know search results can be extremely fickle, from the niche you’re working within to the couple of hundred different ranking factors that apply to each and every site.

What happened elsewhere?

Some say there were big brand winners and losers but won’t disclose any hard figures. Most agencies and independent SEO’s have reported minor shifts.

I’ve been around in the SEO space long enough now to know that some of the big winners and losers were probably sites Google wanted to make an example of.

It’s happened before with other major updates where big brand websites would either enjoy a nice increase in traffic or lay in ruins after experiencing the full wrath of Google, then the SEO community would do the usual great job of spreading the word.

Speculation on actual events

As always, nobody other than Google HQ will have the full picture of what’s going on. How search results are calculated is so complex and this update is yet another layer of complexity that appears on top. I’d bet most people at Google wouldn’t know the finer details either, apart from the obscenely brainy engineers.

In my opinion the recent update has been more of a warning shot from Google, in reality two things far more important than being mobile friendly are relevancy and authority of the websites being served up in the search results.

Sites that display both of these characteristics in the top slots are not going to be shifted so easily.

Add into the mix, figures being banded around before the update show that 40% of all websites are still not mobile friendly.

If you were Google would you really want to push sub-standard websites lacking in relevancy and authority up to the top of the search results just because they were mobile friendly?

I’ll leave you to decide on that one.

My guess is the recent mobile update is something that will be dialed up incrementally over the coming months/years. Google has access to so much data, they’ll know how much to keep tweaking this.

At the moment my guess is its filtering search results at 10% strength but Google will continue to turn this up as more sites are tagged as mobile friendly, and it can be confident of serving on the most part mobile friendly and useful search results.

Also from my own experience I’m certain site performance has a big part to play. It did throw me a little when I realised older client sites that were non mobile friendly hadn’t been affected but then when it comes to load times I’m a bit fanatical and like client sites to load quickly, so I think this has had a big part to play in these sites not being hit with the Google stick.

I’d hazard a guess to say site performance still sits above whether the site is mobile friendly or not, in the real world nobody is going to wait 25-30 seconds for a site to load irrespective of whether it’s mobile friendly or not, and Google will know this looking at usage data like bounce rates.


Even though you shouldn’t need to be running to the nearest web designer in a state of panic, telling them you need a mobile website built yesterday. You still need to take a rational look at the current state of your business online.

Look at your website analytics, is a mobile friendly website high on your list of priorities right now? Are you losing hard earned visitors because you’re not mobile friendly? Maybe it’s not really an issue right now, but should we set a target to have this fixed in the near future?

These are questions only you’ll know the answer too.

I’ll always say yes, being mobile friendly is a nothing but a good thing and is something I include for all new web design clients by default, but how much of a priority is it for your business right this minute?

Hopefully this and my original article on Google Mobile will give you some insight into what your best course of action is.