It’s a month on from the already-infamous Google Mobilepocalypse, Bing is planning one of its own and everyone finally seems to be calming down. Fortunately 4Ps Labs are here to stir things up again having finally crunched an enormous amount of keyword rank sampling data (collected with the help of our good chums at Stat Search Analytics) and sifted it by client through our vertical teams to get a picture of the post-event trends by sector and how much certain markets were (or were not) affected by the big shake-up.
The first thing to say is that we didn’t really see any immediate effects from the official release date – but then it is well-documented that big Google algo updates don’t go live globally with the flick of a switch. First noticeable fluctuations started cropping up for most of our clients around April 30th and by the end of the first week of May we had a pretty good idea of how everyone had fared, so we’ve paid attention to that sort of timeframe rather than all the way from the announced release day. The dates are marked on all graphs below for clarity.
The two principle sectors covered by our B2B department are actually quite far-ranging with Data & Tech covering a range of solution providers from marketing analytics packages to forecasting specialists and Professional Services including everything from lawyers to accountants to serviced apartment providers! Data & Tech, as you’d expect from such a market, remained relatively stable through the release having gone mobile-first a while ago, but our Professional Services clients saw their relatively recent investments in mobile-friendly sites really pay off with a net improvement (i.e. a decrease) in their average Google rankings – great stuff.
Looking into consumer services, the biggest winners were the third sector (not for profit organisations), who we’ve found tended to embrace mobile relatively rapidly to avoid getting left behind on the accessibility, as well as visibility, front. Our motoring team were also glad to see a bit of a gain for their clients too, as several recently invested in mobile UX by updating to responsive websites. Nothing conclusive for the employment clients unfortunately, but definitely some bad news for the property sector where reliance on third party sites like Rightmove sadly causes many brands to become complacent regarding UX on their own web properties. Our one mobile-friendly client on that team did buck the trend though – well done to them for keeping ahead of the curve!
On the retail front, Food & Drink grabbed the biggest benefits from the update with many clients taking advantage of the release to push through some UX improvements on mobile and responsive stylesheets, with clear benefits barring a few fluctuating burps post-launch. Fashion and Beauty didn’t see anything quite as spectacular but a few clients did quite well out of the update which is reflected in the sector average. The Healthcare sector didn’t have as much luck, with Healthcare in particular seeing some big jumps in the wrong direction. Unfortunately it tends to be a tricky area to push site changes through due to heavy regulation in the marketplace, so this wasn’t entirely unexpected. Our homeware clients survived mostly unscathed although we saw a few excellent examples of why “just go responsive” wasn’t enough without a good designer who took things like navigational elements for mobile UX into account when building those adapting stylesheets!
Last but by no means least, our Travel and Events did pretty well out of the update. Events saw barely a hiccup thanks to some hastened deadlines ensuring that mobile plans already in the pipeline were carefully accelerated to meet the April deadline – top work from clients, their developers and our account managers there. Travel has seen more of a decline as sadly some brands had mobile-friendly UX and rebuild work on their itinerary for the 2015/16 financial year, with sheer inertia preventing earlier adoption despite everyone’s best efforts. Of course travel can be one of the most challenging sectors for UX of any kind, with complex booking and reservation engines challenging designers even in full desktop view, so we’re glad that our good work elsewhere on the Google visibility signals spectrum prevented the slight decline from being something more damaging.
That’s it for 4Ps Labs on the Mobilepocalypse – not really as apocalyptic on our client base as many would have believed, but then as an agency we’re fortunate enough to work with a lot of forward-thinking brands who are regularly eager to push to the cutting edge and beyond.
How did your site measure up? Remember that mobile UX is just one of hundreds of ranking signals that Google uses (for both mobile and desktop searches) so if you’re having visibility issues or think you might have taken a penalty from this algorithm update (or any others), get in touch with 4Ps today to find out how we can help.