Google's 'mobile friendly' update came into effect recently and I have some early data showing the possible effects of the changes. 

For example, Barclays' mobile-optimised homepage ranks well, but its non-optimised pages have dropped in the search rankings. 

Here are a few other test cases...

The data

I have used charts from PI-Datametrics, which analyse the rankings of several high profile sites for a range of keywords. 

I have also used Google's Mobile-Friendly Test tool to determine whether the big G approves of these mobile pages or not. 

The results seem to show some interesting effects post 'mobilegeddon' but I'll leave it to you to draw your own conclusions. 

Barclays

This is an interesting one, as some parts of the Barclays site are mobile friendly, and others aren't. 

The homepage passes the Google test: 

This mobile friendly page ranks consistently well and Google's mobile update came and went without any noticeable effect. 

Other pages on the Barclays site failed Google's test, such as this one. It's a desktop page, so text is too small and links are too close together.

Here we can see the effect of the algorithm (or what seems to be the effect) on the mobile friendly pages. 

British Airways

This BA page on Algeria is just a desktop page, therefore it has been flagged by Google. 

There are several such pages on BA and the following terms all lead to mobile 'unfriendly' pages.

Here's what has happened to them after the update: 

Asda

Asda has mobile friendly pages and seems to have benefitted from this update. 

This shows the results of Google's test for its trout fillets page. 

The trout fillets page is the burgundy line, which has jumped post-update, along with several others. 

Siemens

This is similar to Asda. Siemens' pages are mobile optimised and Google is happy enough with them. 

The ranking jumps suggest that Siemens has benefitted from the mobile-friendly updates with some significant ranking jumps across a range of terms. 

In summary

These early results suggest that Google's mobile friendly update has indeed had an impact. 

Sites which are optimised for mobile have benefitted, while pages which aren't mobile friendly have fallen down the rankings. 

The results for BA and Barclays, with a mixture of pages optimised for mobile and standard desktop pages, seem to bear this out. 

However, these results only show a correlation between the date of Google's mobile update and changes in rankings.

Rankings can fluctuate for various reasons, and there may also be cases where brands have panicked in advance of 'mobilegeddon' and implemented changes that have done more harm than good. 

What do you think? Are these ranking changes down to Google? Have you seen other evidence? Let me know below... 

Graham Charlton

Published 4 May, 2015 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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Simone Castello

Simone Castello, Digital consultant and trainer at www.simonecastello.co.uk

Dammit, I could have written this article! Duly shared and well done for using the free tool to do some research. Duly shared as these are great opps for smaller firms whose audience is mobile.

over 2 years ago

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Roopinder Tara, Director of Content at ENGINEERING.com

We did our own preliminary study on two engineering sites that bears out these findings on ENGINEERING.com. Our flagship site, which is mobile optimized, went from 5500 mobile sessions to 5900 after the change. A site not mobile optimized dropped from 7400 to 6600 mobile sessions. http://advertise.engineering.com/digital-marketing-for-engineers-blog/mobilegeddon-guide-for-engineering-marketers?success=true

over 2 years ago

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Harekrishna Patel, eCommerce Marketing Consultant at XtremeUX

I would like to add one point, For some websites, the web page is designed to work well on mobile devices, but it’s not passing the Mobile-Friendly Test, the most common reason is that Google bot for smartphones is blocked from crawling resources, which are critical for determining whether the page is legible and usable on a mobile device.

To resolve, I recommend that site owners allow Google bot to crawl all resources for a page (including CSS, JavaScript, and images).

over 2 years ago

Andrew Martin

Andrew Martin, Head of SEO and Analytics at Personal

Thanks Graham, really good to see some early examples of the impact of this. Would be nice to come back to these same examples and re-check them in a few months time.

Harekrishna Patel makes a good point - being mindful of what you may have inadvertantly blocked Googlebot from, might just solve some of the issues. Go and check your robots.txt file (or try the tester in Webmasters Tools).

I also agree with Simone (hi Simone!), in that whilst the slow moving, big, luxury brands, slowly move to improve their sites, the nimble sole traders and SMEs can sneak past and hopefully enjoy increased visibility and revenue.

over 2 years ago

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Maarten Baas, E-Business Consultant at Eperium

Hi Graham, Thanks for this interesting article. One thing is not clear to me.
Are the above search results for searching specificaly from a mobile device or from searching from desktop/tablet device. There is documentation from google that indicates mobilegadon only impacts searches from mobiles devices which i think is important for readers to understand.
But the google documentation is a bit older (from februari)

Link: http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.nl/2015/02/finding-more-mobile-friendly-search.html

over 2 years ago

Tony J. Carter

Tony J. Carter, Founder Partner at icanetwork.com/r/tonyjcarter

This example is well written and researched...

it succinctly demonstrates that even some of the BIG CORPORATES like Barclays and British Airways have NOT YET taken full advantage of the new Internet landscape -

ie the FULL transition to mobile friendly websites...

My specific interest however is not so much with the big corporates but with the small local business...

The small local businesses can actually capitalise on Google's Global April 2015 announcment that basically says -

Google are to favour websites that are mobile friendly and as such these sites search rankings are likely to be enhanced over websites that are not mobile friendly...

In short -

the playing field has been greatly equalised somewhat...

Why..?

think about it...

Googles core business from a strategic viewpoint is in fact providing a 1st class, relevant, and pinpoint accurate experience to a users search query.

Almost everyone you ask would think that Googles core business is taking your advertising money for Google advertising -

but here's the thing -

you and i advertise because we know and are assured that Google return to us 1st class relevant and pinpoint accurate search results on our screens 'almost' every single time...

lets face it...

WHO would want to spend lots of money on Google adwords week after week, month after month, year after year - if we see poorly presented, irrelevant and inaccurate search results returned from our key word query???

No-one in their right mind would subsequently advertise!

So -

for Google to remain as the Worlds No.1 most popular search engine they MUST return better and better search query results to the user...

NOT just sometimes...

BUT almost EVERY-TIME.

When the small local business understands this they WILL be compelled to convert their website to a mobile friendly version in-order to provide an optimised, clearer, and quicker experience for the growing GIGANTIC army of mobile users...

and hence -

potentially -

leapfrog in the search rankings over some of its much larger big brand competitors that do-not fully understand this or do-not take this as seriously as they ought..

like i said - this levels the playing field somewhat for the smaller guy/gal.

In this new internet landscape Google is giving no respect to WHO you are - big corporate or not -

the village corner shop which is FULLY optimised for mobile devices WILL benefit over its much larger rival - if - its much larger rival has not fully embraced or fully understood the ramifications of the mobile friendly landscape that's here to stay.

about 2 years ago

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