Did Mobilegeddon Hurt Your Organic Traffic?

by | Jul 21, 2015 | SEM | 0 comments

Remember all the “Mobilegeddon” hoopla earlier this year? If not, here’s a reminder . . . . Back in April 2015, Google set a deadline of April 21 for website owners to have their sites mobile-optimized. As reported by Inc.com on May 7, 2015, the initial impact on non-optimized sites didn’t seem so bad:

“We’re now a few weeks into what many in the SEO world have deemed “Mobilegeddon” and the aftermath isn’t quite as dramatic as some predicted it would be. While some websites are reporting minimal effects, very few–if any–have yet to reveal any catastrophic drop in search rankings.”

Two months later, and it’s a different story based on the findings in the Adobe Digital Index for Q2 2015.

Mobilegeddon’s Impact

Findings in the Adobe Digital Index reveal that those site owners who didn’t update for Mobilegeddon have finally begun to feel the pain of not optimizing for mobile. Google is keeping its promise on prioritizing mobile-friendly sites in organic search, and the result is a 10% drop in organic traffic for sites that aren’t optimized.

Adobe Digital Index indicates that many marketers have taken to bidding more aggressively on pay-per click (PPC) mobile search to make up for the loss in mobile traffic. I’m sure you can guess what the influx and increased bidding means . . . higher costs for less mobile traffic. The year-over-year cost per click rose 16% while the click-through rate fell 9%.

Why Does Mobile Matter?

Depending on your perspective, you may just think mobile matters because Google wanted to make more money on mobile PPC advertising through its Google AdWords offering. While that may have been a benefit of Mobilegeddon for the company, ultimately forcing site owners to provide a better mobile experience will ultimately serve both searchers and businesses well. Let’s take a look at some facts about mobile devices.

Mobile Use in the U.S.

Mobile searchAccording to Pew Research Center’s report, U.S. Smartphone Use in 2015, close to two-thirds of all Americans own a smartphone and 19% rely on their smartphones for internet access to some extent. Adults 18 – 29 are particularly fond of mobile devices for online access — up to 15% of this population depend smartphones.  As more and more Millennials enter adulthood, we will see an increase in mobile-reliant users in the workplace. These digital natives were practically born with a tablet or smartphone in hand.

You may be thinking, “Big whoop! A lot of people have smartphones and some use them get search the internet.” I’m here to tell you that it actually is a “big whoop.” In December 2014, the eMarketer report, “Key Digital Trends for 2015: What’s in Store—and Not in Store—for the Coming Year,” predicted that mobile search will surpass desktop/laptop search activity.

Guess what. Mobile search has already surpassed desktop/laptop search according to Google.

“. . . more Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries including the US and Japan.” (source: Google)

Job seekers are using their smartphones and tablets to search for and apply to jobs.

For business owners, hiring managers, and HR teams, it’s more important than ever that your organization’s website have a “mobile-first mindset” when it comes to attracting applicants. According to the Pew Research Center report mentions earlier in this post, 43% of smartphone users have used their devices to look up job information and 18% have applied for jobs via a smartphone. (Source: U.S. Smartphone Use in 2015, page 5)

Millennials are smartphone superusers.

In a survey conducted by Zogby Analytics, Nearly half of the Millennial respondents reported that they access businesses via a mobile website at least once a day. 27% reported doing so multiple times per day. Around 58% said they have attempted to enroll in a new service or open a new account via mobile device with 75% of those individuals able to complete the process. Another interesting response: 60% of Millennials surveyed believe that everything will be done on mobile within the next five years.

When you think about the Millennial generation, it’s important to remember that they aren’t all just a bunch of kids anymore. They are entering the workforce and will represent more than 50% of it as Baby Boomers retire over the next five years. Millennials are your next source of workers and decision makers. And, they love mobile.

Make Your Marketing Mobile Friendly

If you are behind in optimizing for mobile or if you are haven’t yet launched your online marketing efforts, put optimization at the top of your to do list. Here are few things to consider when attempting to capture mobile searchers.

  • Ensure your site is optimized for both smartphones and tablets. If you don’t have developers on staff to create a responsive site, hire an agency to help. If you don’t have the budget for an agency, consider one of the following:
    • A self-hosted WordPress site and a responsive WordPress theme. Check out ThemeForest or Headway Themes.
    • Try a service like SquareSpace, Wix, or Weebly. These services are pretty much “drag and drop” and should have templates that come with responsive design as part of the feature set.
  • Keep mobile user search behavior in mind when considering your SEO strategy.
    • Optimize your page titles and meta descriptions. You should do this anyway, but search engine results page (SERP) real estate gets a lot smaller on a smartphone or tablet. Make them as concise as possible so a mobile searcher can immediately understand what to expect based on the search results your page delivers via Google search.
    • Make local SEO a priority if you depend on regional business. If your business is a restaurant, it’s very likely your target audience breaks out their smartphones to look for a place to eat. If you have properly optimized for local search, you’re going to have a better chance of getting those patrons in the door. If you are a plumber, you will be more likely the one to get the call when the frantic homeowner does a quick search on Google to find someone to come fix the busted pipes.
    • Use structured data, such as schema.org, to make your SERP result stand out. A rich snippet on a mobile search result will help your entry capture more attention and potentially more clicks.
  • Try advertising on social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. One of the top uses for smartphones is to engage on social media. Why not capitalize on that fact and drive traffic to your mobile-friendly website with some engaging ads and sponsored posts?


The mobile-first mindset is here and the time to optimize is now. With more and more youths moving into adulthood with smartphone in hand, your business will require a mobile experience to stay relevant as these people begin to wield more decision making influence and power. There is a cost to do so — design work, SEO work. However, there are greater risks not going mobile-friendly: losing organic traffic due to Google ranking algorithms, losing money on mobile PPC ads that generate less traffic at higher CPC, and losing traffic to your competitors that are taking mobile very seriously.

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