As Google pushes on with its support for the Accelerated Mobile Pages Project, last year’s mobile algorithm update seems like a faint memory. ‘Mobilegeddon’ was perhaps the most unusual update in Google history – not least for all the hype beforehand and the anti-climax of basically nothing happening at first.
However, Google’s mobile update did eventually have a drastic impact on search visibility, even if the world didn’t come crashing to an end. And the guys over at analytics firm SISTRIX have been kind enough to offer up some examples of the winners and losers.
What the examples from SISTRIX are telling you
The examples offered up by SISTREX come form its own Visibility Index Tool. Graphs display the visibility for both mobile and desktop versions of each site and how they have changed over the last seven months. This is important, because even though the mobile update only affects mobile searches directly, you can see there are knock-on effects in many cases.
Another interesting note is the dates you’ll see on the bottom x-axis of these graphs. Google’s mobile update starting rolling out on April 21, but you’ll see it took months for the full impact to reach many sites.
And the mobile update award goes to… Twitter!
That’s right, it seems Twitter has been the big winner in all this mobile update business. Of course, this could have something to do with Google and the social giant jumping into bed together, just few months before the update. Not that we’re so cynical to suggest that’s the case, of course.
What you’ll see in that graph is a huge spike in visibility for Twitter.com (UK mobile visibility) towards the end of August last year. What’s interesting, though, is that while Twitter had very similar visibility for mobile and desktop before Google’s algorithm kicked in, desktop took a pretty hefty dip in visibility soon afterwards.
TripAdvisor sees mixed results on different domains
Tripadvisor.com was the third big winner in the SISTRIX analysis, but this has been largely cancelled out by a loss for the UK version of its site, Tripadvisor.co.uk.
This could be because another mobile winner is ranking for keywords ahead of the UK domain. It seems a little strange that the loss is almost an exact mirror of the gain enjoyed by the US version, though. So could it be that Tripadvisor has taken visibility from one of its own sites? Well, it wouldn’t be the first example of international domains competing against each other.
Huffington Post licks its mobile wounds
The biggest loser in all this, according to SISTEX, has been Huffingtonpost.co.uk, which hosts its mobile site on the Huffpost.com domain.
The result has been an 87.24% drop in mobile visibility for Huffpost.com on Google.co.uk searches. Google’s guidelines on mobile-friendliness say the mobile redirect for Huffington Post UK should be m.huffingtonpost.co.uk, not m.huffpost.com/uk. We can’t say if Google would hit a site so drastically for poor domain setup, of course, but it’s a pretty fundamental flaw they’ve made with setting up their international domain structure.
So thanks to SISTRIX for showing how hard Google’s mobile update has hit some of the biggest names around. We already know mobile optimisation is important, but it’s interesting to see major brands still getting some of the basics wrong and potentially paying the price for it.
The Huffington Post example was a great one for us, reinforcing the importance of setting up separate mobile domains correctly. We’re not big fans of the separate mobile approach here at Hot Click anyway – and it’s not what Google recommends either. But you shouldn’t get penalised by the search firm for going separate, provided you set everything up correctly.
There’s also a potential lesson in the TripAdvisor example, where two versions of the same site look like they could be competing against each other. Again this comes down to domain choices and site structure, so keep that in mind if you have international audiences to cater for.
And that’s about it for today’s edition, but we’ll be back very soon with another look at Accelerated Mobile Pages – particularly, whether you can expect them to make your website faster.