Mobile First Will Crush Big Brands

November 27, 2017

After listening to Gary Illyes presentation at Pubcon on Google’s Mobile First Index rollout, I thought it raised some serious issues for major brand sites not only in Australia, but globally. It would seriously alter Australia’s ranking hierarchy and affect Google in the process.

What I learned

  • Mobile First is being tested, but the release is a mystery
  • Responsive, dynamic sites should have little concern
  • Parity between m.dot and desktop sites is essential
  • Major brands will have their content indexes wiped out
  • Won’t this seriously affect Google too?

SEO Resources

Mobile first winner and losers
Mobile first winner and losers

Hey, welcome back Rankers! I’m trying something a little bit different today, anyway, see how it goes. I wanted to talk to you a little bit about mobile-first index, so, it’s gone a bit quiet, and nobody’s really talking about it before.

Mobile First Index is coming. But when?

To give you a background, Google announced some time ago, I don’t know how long ago, could have been years, that eventually, we will have a mobile-first index and it was always, “Well, what does that actually mean?” Well, we know that Google’s traffic is well over 50%, I think it might even be 70% now, mobile. I’ll check that, but everything’s about mobile, right? (over 60% 12 months ago) .
So, what Google has said is that they were only going to have a mobile index, there’ll be no such thing as, you know, we used to think, “Oh, they were talking about having a separate mobile index to the desktop.” But, based on what Gary Illyes said at Pubcon a couple of weeks ago in Vegas, that’s not the case, because he was saying, basically, “If you’re a responsive and dynamic serving site, then you don’t have to do anything.”
Awesome. However, if you have a separate mobile site, you’ve got to have content parity, structured data parity, between the mobile version of the site and the desktop and ensure the service can handle potentially increased load. Because, if you’ve got an m.dot site, even though it might be on its own server, that m.dot site’s now going to get all the Googlebot traffic.
So, if you’re getting a lot of Googlebot activity, you’ve got to make sure it can handle that. But, more importantly, what does it mean? Well, basically, what it means is, is that if you have, and this was an old-school approach to mobile sites, but, if you have a m.dot site and a normal desktop, a www site, if you have two of those and you have a lot more content on the desktop than what you do on the mobile, all that extra content on the desktop? Gone.

All that’s going to be in the index after that, is what’s on the mobile. That’s what Gary Illyes said to us at Pubcon, there’s his slides, you can see it.

@methode Mobile first slide at Pubcon 2017
@methode Mobile first slide at Pubcon 2017

However, they said, “We don’t know when we’re going to do this. It could be soon, we’re testing at the moment, we’re trying it out at the moment.”

Devastating Consequences

Here’s the problem; I think, if Google certainly went with this today, in Australia, it would be disaster, not only for a bunch of companies in Australia and a bunch of websites, but also, for Google themselves, because, look at these numbers.

Myer has an m.dot site, it has 185,000 pages on that, 391,000 on its desktop, it’s going to lose 50% of its content index in Google. Just go down the list here, the Australian Stock Exchange will lose 94% of the content indexed in Google.

Realestate.com.au is going to lose 99% of the content that is indexed. Wikipedia is going to lose 48% of the content indexed. I mean, these numbers just go on and on and on. Bupa, insurance company, 99% they’re going to lose. Huffington Post in Australia is going to lose 83%. The Catch Group, g’day, Paul, 93% of your traffic.

What have we got here? Kennards, g’day, Sam, 94%. I told these blokes about this, 94% of the traffic, you’re going to lose. Or, content indexed, which is pretty much your traffic anyway, but at the end of the day.
The NRL, National Rugby League will lose 51% of its content. Bendigo Bank, 76%. Who else have we got? Ticketmaster, 74%, Huggies, 99% of its traffic you’re going to lose. Drive, I mean, this list goes on and on, right?

So, if this is true, if Google is saying this is what’s going to happen, it’s going to make Google not as good a product, because it’s going to be missing all this content. People rely on a lot of these sites for information. I mean, can you imagine, tomorrow, if realestate.com.au lost 99% of its pages indexed in Google?

Well, I mean, there’s plenty of other sites to pick up the slack, I guess, but, certainly that’s what’s going to happen. Oh, the other big one too, is News Corp, all the local sites, all the local newspaper sites that News Corp have, it looks like they’re about to lose about 90% of their traffic, all of those sites.
So, this is going to have a huge impact, if Google went with it, as it stands and they’re saying that they’re imminent, the launch is imminent. They’re going to lose a lot of content out of their index, a lot of businesses are going to be devastated.

Look, that Wikipedia number, that’s not for Australia, that’s a global number. They’re going to lose 48% of their pages indexed globally if Google pursues this as they’re saying they’re going to. But, if you want to try this at home, here’s something that you can do; Just do, “site”, I’m not looking for all of the sites, right, so I’ve just done, “site:” I’ve done a wildcard in there, so give me all the domains of .com.au, that have an m.dot. But, you could also go, “.gov” and it’ll give you some indication.
Now, if these sites are not, like here, “m.doc.vic.au”, right? So, you say, “Okay, how many pages has this one got?” … m.vic.gov.au, this is the Victorian state government, they have got 5,700 results at m.dot. Don’t worry about that message, this is just a plugin I’m using. Then, we’ve got 50,000 at the desktop. So, your Victorian government is going to lose whatever that is, 80% of its indexed content.

Anyway, if you’re running an m.dot, maybe you shouldn’t, or make sure you’ve got content parity and start that work now, because when Google rolls this out, if you haven’t done that, you’re going to get smashed.
Hopefully everyone had a good Black Friday, but Amazon and Black Friday and all of those things are great and Amazon’s a big threat in Australia, because they’re about to launch and everything else, but what’s a bigger threat? Myer and other big retailers, you better get your m.dot fixed up pretty quickly, or you’re going to lose a lot more traffic and a lot more sales than Amazon could affect.
That’s all for this week and we’ll see you next week. Thanks very much, everyone, bye.

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