Google Mobile Friendly Update - Early Study Results

Apr 22, 2015


min read

On February 26th, Google announced a mobile friendly update, a.k.a. Mobilegeddon, and the mobile frenzy began. "How will it affect my website?" is probably one of the questions in everyone's mind these days. To answer this question, we've set up a research study to see how this update has impacted the mobile search results and we're happy to share some initial results with you today.

The Setup

We started monitoring mobile search a few weeks ago with the help of the Google Algorithm Changes tool. Yesterday, on April 21st, Google publicly announced that the mobile update rollout has began. But as you can see in the data we collected so far, things haven’t been very calm in the mobile SERPs for the past week either.


This bar chart shows the ranking changes factor for each day. It’s color changes from green (fewer changes) to yellow (moderate changes) and red (major changes), depending on the number and severity of ranking changes.

The blue line shows the organic visibility of all the websites that we track in AWR Cloud. In the case above, when the organic visibility decreases, it means that, on average, the websites we track are experiencing lower rankings in Google mobile search results.

You can also see this report with your own website visibility in your AWR Cloud account.

Some of the changes you see in the chart above may have been caused by last minute changes by webmasters in order to make their websites mobile friendly. Some are probably tests ran by Google in preparation for the big algorithm change.

To get an idea of the scale of these changes, while on a normal day, around 120 thousand URLs move up and down in the SERPs, the last 6 days have all been red lines, moving about 250 thousand URLs every day. That’s on average about 40% of the 600 thousand URLs that we track daily.

What's interesting is that the Top 20 results haven't been affected that much. The major changes happened below the third page.

This could mean that established sites (that have been mobile friendly for a while) were already occupying the Top 20 results and were not affected that much by this algorithm update. Reversely, the sites that are not mobile friendly and are ranking between the third and fifth page are beeing replaced in the SERP by other sites that are mobile friendly.

The Study

While the Google Algorithm Changes tool proved to be a very helpful ally, we thought we should dig a bit deeper and precisely see how rankings changed for both mobile-friendly and non-mobile-friendly websites. So we started monitoring some websites from the same industry and checked them every day to see how their rankings evolved before and during this update.

There was no surprise to see that the mobile-friendly websites kept moving up in the SERPs, while the non-friendly ones were dropping. Here's the typical ranking evolution of the mobile-friendly and non-mobile-friendly websites, during the update:


Tweet this: On average, we have seen a 12% increase in ranking visibility for the mobile-friendly websites compared with their visibility on Google Mobile from a week ago.

As for the non-mobile friendly websites, their drop in visibility was slow but steady, proving somewhat that the update was gradual and not all keywords were affected at once:


These are just some the intial findings. We'll continue to track and observe the changes for the next couple of weeks, to be sure we're grasping the full picture, and we'll keep you all up to date here on this blog and via Twitter.

By the way, if you’re not doing this already, you too can track your Google mobile rankings in AWR Cloud and compare your desktop rankings with the mobile ones.

Has your website been affected by these new changes in the Google Algorithm? Please leave a comment below.

Article by

Philip Petrescu

Philip is the CEO and Co-Founder of Caphyon, managing the team that has built Advanced Web Ranking since 2002. You can follow Philip on Twitter.

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