One (and a bit) weeks on: MobileMania

Image via Search Engine Land

I recently wrote about the upcoming mobile update; #Mobilegeddon is the name that the digital marketing sphere has given it. Google appears to have opted for the slightly more unsettling #MobileMadness. However you choose to name the latest update the most important thing is adhering to what has come to be expected by Google. This blog post will look at how the update has rolled out one week after its initial release and any further clues we have to the nature of the update.

Google Switzerland employee John Mueller hosted a live hangout on Friday 24 April (three days after the initial rollout) in which he stated that some Google data centres had gone 100% live, while others were still in the process of updating. In full he said:



"It’s definitely rolling out. I know in some of the data centres it’s already rolled out completely. So that is something where I think you will probably see that change over the course of a week, maybe a week and a half – something like that.

From the first day to the next day, I don’t think you’ll see a big change. But if you compare last week to next week, then you should see a big change.

And I’ve seen some blog posts out there have noticed it’s different, and tried to document the difference between the desktop results and new mobile results. So there are definitely people noticing it."

The key takeaway from this is that if you haven’t seen any major changes as of yet then you can expect to start seeing some in the not too distant future. Dependent on what data centre your query is hitting you will see varying results.

 

What are the Google data centres?

The Google data centres are essentially physical hubs where a huge network of servers and fibre optic cables deal with the weight of hits coming in at Google at any one given moment. It is these physical hubs that allow Google to index 20 billion web pages per day, handle 3 billion daily queries as well as offer free email storage to 425 million Gmail users.

There are estimated to be at least five Google data centres in Europe, so depending on where you are, you can expect to get different results. This will be determined by how fully-fledged the update is in that particular centre.

 

Winners & Losers

I previously suggested that the emphasis for this latest update had changed entirely from benefitting those who have done well to negatively impacting those that have not done enough to clear the bar. It pains me to say this, but it appears I was wrong. Both boosts and drops have been meted out to some pretty big players in the internet game.

But first, the losers…. Searchmetrics released some of their data on the matter. The self-proclaimed front page of the internet has seen the biggest hit across the whole internet. I am of course talking about the message-board cum forum cum all-round internet cultural generator, Reddit.

 

The site is notoriously tricky to use, and remains impenetrable by design. Their mobile offering leaves even more to be desired.

 

Going through the checklist of Google’s recommended mobile designs is like reading though a list of shouldabeens for Reddit. Responsive? Forget it. Clickable links? Not a chance.

 

But does Reddit care? In short, probably not. A third party app (Alien Blue) that was recently acquired by the company is the main way the site processes a lot of its incoming traffic from iOS. The Android-friendly version is on its way. And let’s not forget this update affects mobile results only, this should affect Reddit’s traffic only slightly.

Besides, when was the last time you landed on a Reddit thread as the answer to your organic query?

As such, it seems unlikely that Reddit will do too much to change the way their mobile site works, as there simply isn’t the need to alter their offering as this isn’t the way most users interact with them.

NBC Sports came in second on the biggest losers list, for very similar reasons to Reddit. The text is too small to read on a mobile screen, the links too close together and certain elements do not work on mobile.

It would seem they have reacted quickly to the update and its resultant penalties. When put through the Google Mobile-Friendly Test (on 28 April) the site comes out as mobile friendly. Searchmetrics data was pulled on 25 April, this suggests in the interim period the skin that now sits on top of the site, directing users to the app, has been added. It is this page which appears when put through Google’s test.

 

Could this then be a stopgap solution for sites looking for a quick fix while working on the underlying issues of their mobile usability?

The winners, while still interesting, teach us a lot less than the losers. TV Tropes, a site I was hitherto unaware of, came out on top. It saw the biggest increase in mobile visibility from before to after. This just goes to show how a (relatively) small site can ride the crest of a Google update and receive a lot more traffic as a result of it.

 

Takeaways 

This latest of updates seems to have really taken hold in some areas, while others are rolling out more slowly. The key thing to remember is, of course, that your best bet is adhering as closely as possible to Google’s dictum, regardless of whatever stopgap solutions or minor workarounds there seem to be.

 

Have you noticed anything out of the ordinary? Let me know in the comments below.