Back in February the internet giant Google announced significant future changes to the way it handled online searches, prioritising websites that adapted to mobile and tablet-viewing in its results rather than traditional – and largely static – “desktop” sites. This favouring of mobile-friendly websites was nicknamed “mobilegeddon“, and with good reason as it is something of a truism for search engine results that hardly any users look beyond the fourth page in their queries, be it by Google, Bing/Yahoo or any of their competitors. Indeed for Google some 92% of all traffic for an average search originates in its “Page 1” results. Consequently many older or low-tech sites were expected to be penalized for their lack of platform-flexibility. Though it has taken some time the evidence now seems to be in showing that the predictions of SEO-trouble have come true. Alistair Barr writing for the WSJ on newly published research:
“The report, from Adobe Systems, found that traffic to non-mobile-friendly websites from Google mobile searches fell 12% in the two months after the changes took effect April 21, relative to mobile-friendly sites. Adobe tracked traffic to more than 5,000 sites, which it divided into mobile-friendly and non-mobile-friendly. Ahead of the change, Google said it would favor sites that looked good on small screens, used bigger text and separated links so that they are easier to tap.
Other search experts also spotted the delayed, but substantial impact of Mobilegeddon.
Stone Temple Consulting, a digital-marketing agency, studied more than 50,000 websites for a month after the changes kicked in. It found that non-mobile-friendly sites fell in Google search rankings, while mobile-friendly sites gained.”
Indeed some have expressed fears of a two-tier internet where the bigger, commercial enterprises can continuously afford to met subtle but important technological changes while smaller companies or groups would be marginalised. This is particularly true for the plethora of independent news and activist websites – and of course, blogs- which generate much of their traffic through Google searches. On an anecdotal level I can state that over the last twelve weeks I have witnessed a notable drop in the referrals to An Sionnach Fionn from Google (I am pretty much ignored by Bing/Yahoo). While there are other technological reasons for this I have no doubt that the major one is a ripple effect from the “mobilegeddon” implementation. Simply put, Google’s algorithms have been punishing ASF for its lack of adaptability to smartphones and tablets (amongst other things, perhaps). So I have made another, mobile-flexible change to the format, hopefully one that will please the search-engine daemons of Google. Early feedback through the traffic-analytics have been good – and surprisingly quick.
Of course I do not write An Sionnach Fionn in the hope of gaining fame or riches. On the contrary, I have declined several opportunities for newspaper, radio and television interviews, while ASF is paid for using the spare change in my own meagre pocket. However I do write to be read, and in opposition to the cosy consensus of thought and ideology that dominates the news media in Ireland. So its in my interest to ensure that those who hold similar views can seek out ASF – or my likely simply across stumble across it. In the meantime thanks to all those who have stuck with me through the alterations, and apologies for any annoyance or confusion along the way.
[Thanks to Sammy for inadvertently reminding me to post this explanation of the new look!]