Mobilegeddon in UK: Winners and Losers

Juan Gonzalez
Juan Gonzalez
I studied Regional Studies of Latin American at the University of Cologne - Germany, majoring in "Business Informatics“. I also studied Business Administration and currently I’m doing a Master in International Business Administration. I feel a fascination with SEO and the people who make it possible.
Last week the Mobile World Congress opened its doors in Barcelona. One of the items on the agenda are AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages), which makes this a great time for us to recall the Mobilegeddon and take a look at domains whose mobile versions rank either much better or much worse than their desktop version. After evaluating more than 200 domains, it has become clear that the largest mistake you can make is not having a "mobile-friendly" version of your site at all.

Comparison between the desktop- and mobile-Visibility for Royal.gov.uk on Google.co.uk

The official website for The British Monarchy does not offer a mobile-friendly version. This is the reason why their mobile-Visibility is 37% lower than their desktop counterpart. When we look at the amount of keywords they rank for, we see that they have 50% fewer mobile keywords, 1,063 mobile keywords vs 2,054 desktop keywords. This means that for those 991 mobile keywords some other domain will have taken the place of Royal.gov.uk for a smartphone search on Google.co.uk. We would like to show you some examples of domains that do well in mobile search as well as those, who have quite a bit of room for improvement. The complete list of Top 30 winners and losers can be found at the end of the article.

Winners: The why and wherefore

The first thing that becomes apparent on the winning side is the fact that there is not much of a difference across the domains. If your domain is mobile-friendly you have a chance to rank for all those keywords that those domains, which are not mobile-friendly, have lost. Most of the domains gained between 15% to 25% in mobile Visibility.

(1) Twitter.com

The domain with the largest gain in mobile Visibility, Twitter, ranks for 211,660 keywords for a desktop search and 272,368 keywords for mobile searches. A whopping difference of nearly 60,000 keywords, or 28%. The view of the Top 10 is even more astounding, Twitter ranks for 78% more Top 10 keywords on mobile- than on desktop-searches.

Comparison between the desktop- and mobile-Visibility for Twitter.com on Google.co.uk

For the calculation of the Visibility Index, the keywords are weighted according to the position, search volume and click probabilities. That is the reason why Twitter managed to increase their mobile Visibility by 131%, from 465 to 1,077 points.

Google’s integration of tweets within the search results also was an important milestone.

(2) Msdmanuals.com

If we take a closer look at the domain with the second best increase in mobile Visibility, Msdmanuals.com, we find the number of keywords for the mobile- and desktop-index to be about the same – 12,393 for mobile and 11,600 for desktop, a slight edge of 6,5% for the mobile keywords. If we only look at the keywords within the Top 10 search results, we find that the mobile version ranks for 1.110 keywords while the desktop version only ranks for 744 keywords, an increase of nearly 50% between the mobile and desktop Top 10.

(3) Tripadvisor.com

Lastly, it is worth to mention that Tripadvisor.com managed to gain 17.26% in their mobile Visibility, which is quite a lot for a domain of this size, though they might want to check if this increase is not hurting Tripadvisor.co.uk as the following chart suggests.

Comparison between the mobile-Visibility scores for Tripadvisor.co.uk and Tripadvisor.com on Google.co.uk

The Losers: The why and wherefore

Google has gathered some of the most common mistakes webmasters make when setting up mobile pages, which you can find at https://developers.google.com/webmasters/mobile-sites/mobile-seo/common-mistakes?hl=en. We would like to show you some useful examples.

(1) Huffingtonpost.co.uk

Our first domain on the losing side is Huffingtonpost.co.uk, which lost 87.24% of their mobile Visibility on Google.co.uk. The reason for this decrease is the simple fact that the mobile version for the Huffingtonpost.co.uk is hosted on the domain Huffpost.com. If we compare the desktop version, Huffingtonpost.co.uk, with the mobile version, Huffpost.com, we see that the mobile Visibility is 70% larger than the desktop counterpart!

Comparing the mobile Visibility for Huffpost.com with the desktop Visibility of Huffingtonpost.co.uk on Google.co.uk

This is a great example to show that Google really does not care where you put your mobile content, as long as the two versions are set up correctly.

Yellowpages.com also decided to put their mobile content on a different domain, yp.com. Sadly, their set-up does not work as well, due to some implementation issues.

(2) Etymonline.com

Etymonline.com managed to lose 50% of their keyword rankings between desktop and mobile searches, where the loss in the Top 10 is even more pronounced at 70%, because they do not have a mobile version. They lost 72% of their mobile Visibility on Google.co.uk.

It is not hard to get a fix on what Google thinks of your page where mobile-friendlyness is concerned: just use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.

(3) Mousebreaker.com, (17) Hays.co.uk

If a specific page is not available it should return a status code 404 (page not found) instead of just redirecting the user to the home page, regardless of the desktop or mobile version. All these redirects to the home page constitute soft-404 errors which have a negative impact on the site.

Mousebreaker.com (-67%), for example, redirects many of their pages which are not optimized for mobile use – because many of their products use Adobe Flash – to their mobile home page. http://www.mousebreaker.com/games/bookworm/playgame redirects to m.mousebreaker.com when accessed with a smartphone, instead of returning a 404, as it should.

Another example is Hays.co.uk (-46%), which only has a home page for their mobile version. Every URL will therefore get redirected to this startpage when accessed from a smartphone.

(46) Monarch.co.uk

Showing interstitials on your mobile pages is a very common mistake where overlays, which oftentimes advertise the mobile app for the site, take up most of the space on the page. Google even released a study on the negative impact of interstitials on the searchbehaviour, which showed that 70% of users left mobile pages with interstitials.

Monarch.co.uk, for example, managed to lose 36,40% of their Visibility thanks to their use of interstitials.

Mobilegeddon UK: Winners Top 30

DomainDesktopMobilechange absolutechange percent
twitter.com465.861077.20611.34131.23
msdmanuals.com5.897.311.4224.10
bfi.org.uk6.127.521.4022.94
tomshardware.com10.6613.002.3421.99
superuser.com5.056.091.0420.61
medscape.com41.4349.448.0119.32
games.com5.546.611.0719.29
google.com274.30325.8251.5218.78
bmj.com11.9714.212.2418.70
jstor.org7.318.661.3618.55
businessdictionary.com46.0354.338.3018.02
kijiji.ca6.657.821.1717.52
tripadvisor.com96.71113.4016.6917.26
tomsguide.com14.8517.322.4616.59
researchgate.net9.3110.851.5416.53
payscale.com11.7913.701.9216.25
uptodate.com5.105.930.8316.17
musica.com12.9815.052.0615.89
wordreference.com62.8972.869.9815.86
explainthatstuff.com8.9310.341.4015.72
computerweekly.com5.185.980.8015.51
alison.com9.6711.161.4915.37
slideshare.net18.3221.122.7915.25
tumblr.com118.15136.1117.9615.20
bmstores.co.uk7.368.471.1115.07
clothingattesco.com10.0211.511.4914.90
alexa.com9.7111.151.4414.84
topman.com5.266.030.7714.73
x-rates.com7.989.161.1714.70
wikimedia.org6.297.220.9214.65

Mobilegeddon UK: Losers Top 30

DomainDesktopMobilechange absolutechange percent
huffingtonpost.co.uk18.312.34-15.97-87.24
etymonline.com7.922.25-5.67-71.55
mousebreaker.com6.212.04-4.17-67.17
shockwave.com9.203.16-6.03-65.61
boxofficemojo.com7.532.87-4.67-61.96
freeonlinegames.com6.702.66-4.04-60.27
e-chords.com9.263.90-5.36-57.90
sheppardsoftware.com5.072.23-2.84-56.01
lolking.net6.443.06-3.37-52.42
yellowpages.com8.884.34-4.55-51.18
dict.cc23.1811.40-11.78-50.83
webuy.com5.602.76-2.84-50.68
gutenberg.org8.083.99-4.09-50.67
jewishvirtuallibrary.org5.182.61-2.57-49.66
reevoo.com6.383.43-2.95-46.17
hays.co.uk6.403.45-2.95-46.08
coolmath-games.com9.425.14-4.27-45.38
greenfingers.com5.613.10-2.50-44.66
6pm.com10.665.99-4.67-43.80
kongregate.com15.668.89-6.77-43.25
bristol.ac.uk8.795.16-3.63-41.26
newadvent.org13.267.86-5.40-40.70
bath.ac.uk5.293.14-2.15-40.60
clevelandclinic.org9.815.87-3.94-40.15
exeter.ac.uk5.613.37-2.23-39.86
filmsite.org5.383.24-2.14-39.81
a-z-animals.com7.344.47-2.87-39.07
soccerway.com6.874.23-2.64-38.43
boardgamegeek.com8.775.41-3.36-38.28
thompson-morgan.com10.836.69-4.14-38.26

Conclusion

You should not neglect the mobile optimisation of your site. Please remember that 30% of the entire UK internet traffic already comes from smartphones – http://gs.statcounter.com/#all-comparison-GB-monthly-201502-201602 – and Google acknowledged back in May of 2015, that mobile searches are overtaking desktop searches:

In fact, more Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries including the US and Japan.Jerry Dischler, Vice President, Product Management, AdWords

 

Mobile is not going away, which makes now the best time to consider your mobile strategy for your domain.

I hope you enjoyed it and I wish you a great week!

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Comments
Avatar foster.report   
3. March 2016, 21:26

Great graphs, Juan. As usual.

Thanks for interstitials reference, should check it once more.

Cheers,
/friendly #foster from sew.

Juan Gonzalez   
8. March 2016, 10:17

Hi Foster,
Nice to see you here!
Thank you for your words. I’m glad you like it.

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