Last month at the SMX Advanced Conference in Seattle, the head of Google’s webspam team Matt Cutts briefed the audience on the importance of mobile SEO. “You really need to be thinking about mobile,” said Cutts during his keynote session, “We’re starting to think a lot about mobile.”
Not only is Google’s head of webspam encouraging companies to make mobile SEO a priority, a recent post on Google’s Webmaster Central Blog confirmed the upcoming changes, “We plan to roll out several ranking changes in the near future that address sites that are misconfigured for smartphone users.”
In light of Google’s impending updates, mobile marketing agency Pure Oxygen Labs performed a mobile SEO risk assessment on websites of the top 100 Fortune 500 companies, and found only six percent have websites that comply with Google’s mobile requirements. According to the report findings, once Google’s updates are complete, two-thirds of the sites evaluated risk their site ranking being downgraded in Google because they fail to serve mobile versions of indexed pages.
Pure Oxygen Labs used proprietary mobile diagnostic tools to conduct the assessment, evaluating the sites against Google’s best-practice criteria. The goal of the assessment was to determine: 1.) whether a site’s desktop pages redirected smartphone users to a mobile-friendly page, 2.) how mobile redirects are configured, and 3.) whether or not website pages leverage responsive design formatting.
Of the 100 websites evaluated, the report found that:
- Only 11 percent target smartphone users via responsive design techniques.
- Only 56 percent serve mobile-formatted content to smartphone searchers.
- And, while 45 percent serve a dedicated mobile site to smartphone searchers (e.g., m.companyname.com), zero percent of the mobile sites comply with Google’s mobile configuration requirements.
The assessment determined that only six of the websites were prepared, citing Disney, GE, Humana, JP Morgan, HCA Healthcare and (unsurprisingly) Google as companies with websites well-positioned for Google’s upcoming mobile SEO changes.
The ill-prepared sites suffered from a number of issues, including faulty redirects and lack of responsive design applied consistently to all website pages.
With such lackluster mobile SEO efforts, the search rankings for these companies — and any other websites not in compliance with Google’s mobile requirements — will be adversely affected once Google’s mobile changes go live.
While Google has yet to post a specific date for the roll-out of their mobile SEO updates, Pure Oxygen Labs believes the changes will significantly impact a number of website rankings, mobile search visibility, and subsequently, mobile transactions. The mobile marketing agency recommends that companies unprepared for Google’s upcoming algorithm changes should consider increasing their mobile paid search spend, “…to offset potential losses in mobile organic placement.”
For companies wanting to comply with Google’s SEO mobile changes, Pure Oxygen Labs recommends prioritizing mobile optimization efforts by focusing on high-impact and highest-trafficked pages indexed in Google. At minimum, companies without a mobile presence need to make sure that their most popular webpages include responsive design styles. Companies that have already leveraged mobile SEO practices should correct any faulty or irrelevant redirects, and include the proper meta tags for their mobile pages.
“If history is any guide, we expect Google will likely roll out these changes prior to the holidays – most likely in September or October of 2013,” claims Pure Oxygen Labs, “While revenue loss is yet to be determined, some retailers saw an increase of as much as 25 percent in mobile sales during last year’s holiday shopping season, so there is a less than trivial amount of revenue at stake.”