Google's Mobilegeddon Strikes Mobile-Unfriendly Web Sites
Fears that the latest update to Google’s page ranking algorithm would have a negative impact on enterprise sites have largely been confirmed, according to a new report by Adobe. The “Adobe Digital Index -- Q2 2015 Digital Advertising and Social Media Intelligence Report,” looked at consumer activity on branded sites from Q2 2014 to Q2 2015.
Google’s so-called “Mobilegeddon” took place on April 21 of this year, when the search company began giving preference to sites it deemed to be mobile-friendly in its organic search results. Since that time, organic traffic to sites with low mobile engagement has fallen by as much as 10 percent, according to Adobe.
Pay More, Get Less
The loss of organic traffic has driven enterprises to bid up the cost of paid mobile search, with the cost-per-click rising 16 percent year over year, while the click-through-rate (CTR) fell nine percent over the same period. In other words, enterprises are paying more for less traffic.
Nevertheless, Google seems to have had good reason to prioritize the importance of mobile-friendly sites. The amount of Web traffic from mobile devices is expected to surpass traffic from desktops and laptops for the first time within the next 18 months.
On the other hand, mobile traffic is much less lucrative for enterprise sites. The Adobe study found that mobile visitors do significantly less site browsing than desktop visitors. Mobile visitors also generate far less revenue per visit than desktop visitors.
Optimizing a site for mobile browsing can help close the gap, but incremental changes to site design will not achieve enough on its own to reach parity between mobile and desktop visitors, according to the report. Instead, enterprises will need to find ways to incorporate other technologies, such as the Internet of Things, near field communication, and beacons to meaningfully increase revenue from mobile visitors.
Google Losing Ground to Social
Google’s search revenue growth, meanwhile, is expected to slow in the second quarter, growing only 1 percent to 2 percent over the previous quarter. Much of that may be due to its main competitor, Bing/Yahoo. Although traffic to Google still far exceeds that of Bing, year over year spending for Bing/Yahoo increased 24 percent in North America.
The search giant is also seeing competition from Facebook, which radically redesigned how display ads are selected and presented. The social network's CTR doubled year over year, while the majority of consumers surveyed said that Facebook did a better job than Google’s YouTube for displaying ads that interested them.
Facebook is also benefiting from the shift toward mobile traffic. Smartphone traffic is three times higher for social sites than it is for search sites, according to the report. Although Facebook's revenues per visit dropped 17 percent, it still remains the most lucrative social site per visit.
Reddit, despite its recent problems with turnover in its executive ranks, experienced the most growth in revenues per visit, climbing 80 percent year over year, though it still remains one of the least lucrative social media Web sites.