In years gone by we’ve reported on and broadcasted about upcoming or recent changes to Google algorithms. These updates have had curious animal names like Panda, Penguin, Hyena and Hummingbird and most of them have been fairly well announced and publicised.
Probably the most well publicised Google algorithim update in recent times was when they named the date of 21 April 2015 as a deadline to make your website mobile responsive or run the risk of being regulated on the search engines post that day.
We reached out to our clients in the weeks leading up to the D-Day and diligently let them know of this. Some heeded our advice and we assisted them. Others probably thought we were just trying to hustle them for extra cash and didn’t see any urgency in giving their website a much needed serious overhaul or most certainly some mobile responsive updates.
The ones who acted won out ultimately. After all, good Google rankings are pretty important to a business!
Plumber with leaky taps
We’ve known since 2012 that everything was heading in the direction of mobile. All the guests we hosted from companies like Facebook, Google and more, preached it. It wasn’t until around April 2014 however, that we implemented a much needed major overhaul on our website to make it full width and more mobile responsive. And it’s been virtual high fives and slaps on the back as we’ve seen our website traffic double, and bounce rate decrease to as low as 20%-30% which in industry standards is really good (normal is up to 40-50%).
But this year we noticed something. Our bounce rate was creeping up. And here’s the thing – you have to keep an eye on this stuff! By keep an eye I mean login and check out your Google Analytics on a regular basis – at least monthly, to notice anomalies like this. Each month I logged in I thought ‘hmm that’s a bit high’. Like 70% high.
Finally after 2 months of high bounce rates and nothing going back to normal after having a ‘moment’ I decided to work out exactly when the issue occurred. How? I went into Google Analytics and put in a custom date range with a start date of when I knew the bounce rate was ok, and now. This gave me the answer I was looking for. On 22 May, our bounce rate had doubled.
So if we hadn’t made any major updates to the site, why would this happen. Surely it had to be something Google had effected. Like many an algorithm update?
So i went….googling! Had there been an algorithm update this year we hadn’t heard of?
Moz.com, a really well recognised and respected authority publishes a handy list of known Google Algorithim updates here so that was a good first port of call.
On there I discovered that on May 12 Google had indeed launched an algorithim update called ‘Mobile-friendly 2’ (no animal names in sight), which was basically another ranking signal to benefit mobile-friendly sites on mobile search. A blog from Google was published around this time too, not announcing an algorithim update as such but certainly emphasising how important it deemed mobile search. Read it here.
If you don’t have time for that, here’s a key excerpt:
“Getting good, relevant answers when you search shouldn’t depend on what device you’re using. You should get the best answer possible, whether you’re on a phone, desktop or tablet. If you’ve already made your site mobile-friendly, you will not be impacted by this update. If you need support with your mobile-friendly site, we recommend checking out the Mobile-Friendly Test and the Webmaster Mobile Guide, both of which provide guidance on how to improve your mobile site.
Nine out of ten people will leave a non mobile responsive website…
So I went looking a bit deeper and found another blog from Google on their small business blog from June 2 further confirming this update in the way they rank sites and announcing they were introducing a new tool to measure your site’s performance across devices—from mobile to desktop—which gives you a list of specific fixes that can help your business connect more quickly with people online.
Having now run all four of my websites through it, I can testify that it’s awesome!
According to this blog and a stat sourced from ‘Consumers in the Micro-Moment, Wave 3, Google/Ipsos, U.S., August 2015, n=1291 online smartphone users 18+’, nine out of ten people will leave a mobile website if they can’t find what they’re looking for right away? No wonder therefore they are toughening up on the mobile responsive stuff. They’re all about giving searchers a good experience, and rightfully so.
They do note in the article that the intent of the search query is still a very strong signal — so even if a page with high quality content is not mobile-friendly, it could still rank well if it has great, relevant content.
Having completed my investigations I would:
1/ Run your website through the new tool at https://testmysite.thinkwithgoogle.com/
2. Receipt the report and commence actioning any tips it gives you. If you don’t have the skills to do this, go to your usual web developer, or talk to us!
We’ve got some work to do ourselves based on the report Google gave us, and we’re hoping that once we implement this, our bounce rate will come down. 🙂