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Google?s mobilegeddon was more hype than reality: report

Two weeks after Google?s algorithm change, preliminary data suggests a mobile-first approach with dedicated mobile sites and responsive sites helped marketers retain their high rankings in Google searches while dynamically served sites saw neither clear benefit nor any detriment to their mobile visibility levels. 

The data from 3Q Digital underscores how sites that are showing an increase in mobile search engine optimization visibility from Google?s search metrics in the wake of the search giant?s well-publicized algorithm change were leveraging site builds for dedicated mobile sites and responsive designed sites. 3Q Digital?s findings suggest that because it has been just over a week since the update was announced, chances are good that marketers will begin to see latent traffic changes towards the beginning to middle of May ? and beyond.

?In the near term, the Google algorithm change is more symbolic than practical because many brands have already optimized their Web sites for mobile devices,? said Dwight Sholes, director of professional services, for ReturnPath. ?But it is a wake-up call for any laggards that have not yet fully embraced the mobile revolution. 

?Brands that have not yet optimized their Web site will lose traffic from the large numbers of users conducting searchers on their mobile devices,? he said. ?In today?s marketing environment, not being optimized for mobile is like throwing money out the window.?

Increased stakes
The stakes have gotten higher for marketers for whom location and geo-targeting are important factors in consumers? consideration process, such as restaurants and retailers. When a consumer is out and about and searching for a place to grab a bite on their phone, any restaurants that do not appear in Google?s mobile search results will lose business to nearby competitors. 

Brands such as Adidas, Rimmel London, Nike and Chobani, which already have great mobile strategies supported by mobile-friendly Web sites and targeted mobile campaigns, are well-positioned for the changes.
Well-positioned for Google algorithm changes.

Those lacking Google-optimized or mobile-optimized properties or campaigns, however, will lose out; not just in terms of Google?s search ranking but in potential ways to connect with consumers who increasingly search for, compare, purchase, review or recommend products and services using smartphones.

Google had said the update, said to be pushed live April 21, would take about one to 1.5 weeks to be live in all data centers. (Some Webmasters believe it was live prior to this date, according to 3Q Digital.)

3Q Digital has clients who show content on mobile devices in three separate ways: dedicated mobile sites, responsive designed sites and dynamically served sites.

The sites that showed an increase in their Mobile SEO Visibility from Searchmetrics were leveraging site builds for dedicated mobile sites and responsive designed sites.

The one dynamically served site has not seen clear benefit nor any detriment to its Mobile SEO Visibility levels.

In other findings, traffic levels for all sites do not yet show clear increased levels.

To gauge the effect of the algorithm update, 3Q Digital studied the Searchmetrics Mobile SEO Visibility Metric, a commonly referenced industry metric, and compared it with sessions recorded in Google Analytics (the sessions were filtered to include only organic traffic from Google, specific to mobile devices).

Posing challenges
Researchers studied four client account visuals to see the effects of the update. 

Algorithm change so far is more symbolic than practical.

?Google?s new algorithm presents interesting challenges for email marketing,? Mr. Sholes said. 

?Although mobile devices have never been a preferred way for opting in to email, as more consumers use their mobile devices to conduct searches and are introduced to Web sites they may not have visited previously, any brands that can find ways to optimize the email sign up process for searches arriving at their sited via mobile searches will be able to accelerate list growth.?

Final Take
Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York