Google’s mobile-friendly update introduced the mobile-first era, which drastically changed mobile search rankings and results.
Google released its mobile-friendly update on April 21, 2015, resulting in several nicknames – mobilepocalyse, mopocalypse, mobocalypse, etc.
In the end, the name “Mobilegeddon” stuck (according to my knowledge, this one went to Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Land) since SEO people are dramatic.
What Was Mobilegeddon?
They explained the update on their official Webmaster Central Blog in brief detail, with a picture to illustrate what is and isn’t mobile-friendly:
They didn’t leave anything to the imagination. You couldn’t have it both ways. Your pages were either mobile-responsive, or they weren’t.
The day in April was the official rollout of the update, but it wasn’t the only notification Google sent to webmasters.
A Closer Look at Mobilegeddon
More than two months before the official rollout, Google posted a message informing us that mobile-friendliness would be a ranking signal going forward. This change would be implemented on April 21, and we had to prepare.
Google outlined the impact of this update in a post published on April 21 in three bullet points:
- It only impacts mobile search rankings.
- Globally, it affects search results in all languages.
- Individual pages are affected, not entire websites.
Significant changes were made straightforwardly. There were either mobile-friendly pages, or there wasn’t (a yes/no answer), and it would affect everyone over the course of the following week.
Your site would be impacted no matter what your industry is, whether you are a soap manufacturer or bridge builder.
Google Goes Mobile-First
Google was poised to move the market with this update. It wasn’t just an algorithm update; it was a cultural shift.
According to a common misconception about Google, the company is obsessed with making searchers’ lives more difficult with changes like these. However, this isn’t true.
The company is obsessed with improving the user experience and aligning it with user behavior and market trends. This update did nothing to improve organic search. The objective was to respond to consumer behavior, which was moving in the direction of mobile devices.
Google changed its strategy by pivoting and adapting to consumer behavior. They made the right decision.
What is the reason behind Google’s high degree of concern for a user’s search engine experience? Because paid advertising is still their primary source of income. People click on them to fund their free lunches and robotic dreams, so they want to provide the best experience possible.
As of today, Google has proven its ability to anticipate and pivot to search trends better than anyone else. They truly have a crystal ball that works.
Was Mobilegeddon’s Impact as Devastating as Predicted?
According to our sources, the mobile-friendly update would have a greater impact than Panda and Penguin.
Is that true
The industry slowly exhaled and began to analyze how the update had affected its sites in the days following the update. Following the dust had settled, it appeared that the answer to the question of the update’s impact was “meh,” accompanied by shoulder shrugs.
For the most part, experts said that the update worked as intended. As a result, mobile search negatively impacted non-mobile-friendly pages, causing them to fall in the SERPs.
Dr. Pete Meyers of Moz wrote a great piece on how the update impacted search engine rankings that you can read here.
Back then, page speed and load times were just beginning to be discussed in mainstream circles as ranking factors. I believe this was the beginning of the shift in mindsets towards a faster experience and better results. That may also have been baked in as part of this update, but the data does not support that theory.
These analyses and many others confirmed what most were already seeing: visibility and ranking didn’t change too much.