How To Measure Performance Against Google’s Mobile Friendly Update
Last week my colleague Brendan Cottam detailed key aspects of Google’s Mobile Friendly Update, being released today. This update will potentially give a ranking boost to mobile-friendly pages in Google’s mobile search results.
We’ve received questions about this update from clients and partners and the reality is that for the most part, the percentage of traffic from mobile devices, smart phones in particular, is much more limited than in other industries and markets.
That said, we can practically guarantee percentages will increase over time as technology evolves and adoption to continues to increase as well. So this shift in focus and behavior to a mobile friendly browsing behavior must be part of the long-term online marketing strategy for B2B marketers.
I recommend reviewing Brendan’s outline of action items for B2B marketers assessing this announcement and also read key references made throughout and at the end of the post.
In this blog post, I want to expand upon the exploration of key performance benchmarks B2B marketers need to review in assessment of Google’s Mobile Friendly Update.
Mobile Search Percentage
The first performance benchmark to evaluate is the growth in Google search engine traffic from mobile devices over time. The steps are as follows in Google Analytics:
- Google Analytics, go down to Audience, select Mobile, and then “Overview” in the left-hand navigation menu.
- Filter the Secondary dimension button to view Acquisition and then “Source / Medium“. You should then see a list of domains and applicable channel information from which you can isolate Google organic search referrals (see screenshot below).
- From here, you can now isolate and identify the percentage of Google organic traffic your website is receiving from mobile devices; smartphones specifically.
- To see Google organic traffic only, you can use the “Advanced Filter” and “Include” all “Source / Medium” references containing “Google” (see screenshot).
In this case, we know that of 12,000+ visits from Google, 9.82% of the search engines traffic to the website were from mobile devices.
I recommend capturing this information, on a month by month basis, for at least the past few months, to understand the growth in impact mobile device adoption has on organic search referrals to your organization’s website.
Quality of Mobile Search Traffic
The next step is to compare the quality of Google organic search traffic between device types. Consider the following performance metrics when comparing mobile versus desktop search referrals:
- New Visitor Percentages
- Pages / Visit
- Bounce Rate
- Time on Site
- Conversion Rate / E-Commerce Transaction Rates
- And ideally, the quality of inbound leads from mobile versus desktop
For the organization referenced above, which utilizes a mobile-friendly site design, the vast majority of these types of metrics are comparable and in some cases of higher quality.
However in the example below, we have realized that the e-commerce transaction rate from Google organic search referrals on mobile devices is dramatically lower than those coming from desktop search.
Prioritization has to be made for the user experience smart phone specific search results. However keep in mind that less than 14% of Google organic traffic comes from mobile devices, so in this case the priority is being budgeted amongst a range of additional online marketing initiatives.
Mobile Search Benchmark Over Time
For B2B organizations considering the move to a mobile friendly site experience but have yet to pull the trigger in integration, it is important to keep track of performance benchmarks pre and post mobile algorithm update, on a monthly basis.
While Google Analytics and traditional website reporting tools are important, they only show a view from what’s happening “inside”. In other words, its difficult to know whether declines or improvements are related to algorithmic updates or other factors like competitive improvements, shifts in search result landscape, seasonality, etc.
Google Webmaster Tools Search Query reports provide additional insight into how your website appears in Google search engine listings based on performance of individual landing pages and specific keyword queries. These reports can be configured to view “Mobile Specific” results and performance.
B2B marketers can run Google Webmaster Tools search query reports on a monthly basis to evaluate page performance and keyword visibility performance for all web activity, mobile device usage, and in comparison.
With this information on hand, you will have better insight into whether the mobile algorithm is having a positive or negative impact on the mobile search visibility of your website.
The Competitive Landscape
Lastly, don’t forget to review your competitor’s online marketing strategies, to determine the extent to which the competition is ahead or behind the game as well.
As indicated in Brendan’s post referenced earlier, perform the “site:domain.com” search for competitive websites to help answer the following questions:
- Are your competitors’ homepages mobile-friendly?
- Are transactional landing pages of your B2B competitor’s mobile-friendly?
If competitors have deeper mobile-friendly pages while you do not, they could benefit come April 21st if non mobile-friendly pages are currently ranking ahead of them. Make note of each competitor and to the extent at which they are mobile to help discuss with internal stakeholders how to prioritize your mobile initiatives.
Hopefully these performance benchmarks are of value as we make our way through Google’s latest algorithm update. In summary, pay attention to the percentage of Google organic search traffic coming from mobile devices and the quality of that traffic in comparison to desktop search.
Take note of how performance improves or declines over time through keyword visibility and landing page performance and make sure to understand how “mobile friendly” competitive websites appear as well.
What have we missed and what other types of performance indicators are important to your organization? I would love to hear your thoughts and perspective via comments below.