Only 6% Of Top 100 Fortune 500 Companies Have Sites That Comply With Google’s Mobile Requirements

mobile-seo-featuredLast month at the SMX Advanced Conference in Seattle, the head of Google’s webspam team Matt Cutts briefed the audience on the importance of mobile SEO. “You really need to be thinking about mobile,” said Cutts during his keynote session, “We’re starting to think a lot about mobile.”

Not only is Google’s head of webspam encouraging companies to make mobile SEO a priority, a recent post on Google’s Webmaster Central Blog confirmed the upcoming changes, “We plan to roll out several ranking changes in the near future that address sites that are misconfigured for smartphone users.”

In light of Google’s impending updates, mobile marketing agency Pure Oxygen Labs performed a mobile SEO risk assessment on websites of the top 100 Fortune 500 companies, and found only six percent have websites that comply with Google’s mobile requirements. According to the report findings, once Google’s updates are complete, two-thirds of the sites evaluated risk their site ranking being downgraded in Google because they fail to serve mobile versions of indexed pages.

Pure Oxygen Labs used proprietary mobile diagnostic tools to conduct the assessment, evaluating the sites against Google’s best-practice criteria. The goal of the assessment was to determine: 1.) whether a site’s desktop pages redirected smartphone users to a mobile-friendly page, 2.) how mobile redirects are configured, and 3.) whether or not website pages leverage responsive design formatting.

Of the 100 websites evaluated, the report found that:

  • Only 11 percent target smartphone users via responsive design techniques.
  • Only 56 percent serve mobile-formatted content to smartphone searchers.
  • And, while 45 percent serve a dedicated mobile site to smartphone searchers (e.g., m.companyname.com), zero percent of the mobile sites comply with Google’s mobile configuration requirements.

Fortune 100 Mobile Site BreakdownThe assessment determined that only six of the websites were prepared, citing Disney, GE, Humana, JP Morgan, HCA Healthcare and (unsurprisingly) Google as companies with websites well-positioned for Google’s upcoming mobile SEO changes.

The ill-prepared sites suffered from a number of issues, including faulty redirects and lack of responsive design applied consistently to all website pages.

Sources of Mobile Rank Risking

With such lackluster mobile SEO efforts, the search rankings for these companies — and any other websites not in compliance with Google’s mobile requirements — will be adversely affected once Google’s mobile changes go live.

While Google has yet to post a specific date for the roll-out of their mobile SEO updates, Pure Oxygen Labs believes the changes will significantly impact a number of website rankings, mobile search visibility, and subsequently, mobile transactions. The mobile marketing agency recommends that companies unprepared for Google’s upcoming algorithm changes should consider increasing their mobile paid search spend, “…to offset potential losses in mobile organic placement.”

For companies wanting to comply with Google’s SEO mobile changes, Pure Oxygen Labs recommends prioritizing mobile optimization efforts by focusing on high-impact and highest-trafficked pages indexed in Google. At minimum, companies without a mobile presence need to make sure that their most popular webpages include responsive design styles. Companies that have already leveraged mobile SEO practices should correct any faulty or irrelevant redirects, and include the proper meta tags for their mobile pages.

“If history is any guide, we expect Google will likely roll out these changes prior to the holidays – most likely in September or October of 2013,” claims Pure Oxygen Labs, “While revenue loss is yet to be determined, some retailers saw an increase of as much as 25 percent in mobile sales during last year’s holiday shopping season, so there is a less than trivial amount of revenue at stake.”

Related Topics: Channel: Mobile | Google: Algorithm Updates | Google: Mobile | Google: SEO | SEO - Search Engine Optimization | SEO: General | SEO: Mobile Search

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About The Author: is Third Door Media's General Assignment Correspondent, and reports on the latest news and updates for Marketing Land and Search Engine Land. From 2009 to 2012, she was an award-winning syndicated columnist for a number of daily newspapers from New York to Texas. With more than ten years of marketing management experience, she has contributed to a variety of traditional and online publications, including MarketingProfs.com, SoftwareCEO.com, and Sales and Marketing Management Magazine. Read more of Amy's articles.

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  • Guest

    so I’ve gone through this process at two different fortune500 companies in the last 3 years. It’s not an easy process at that level. Most large clients I’ve worked with want to do responsive, but aren’t ready to do a complete website redesign (you can’t effectively make a site responsive. to do it right, you’ve got to start over.. argue that later)

    getting them to put canonical tags onto their mobile sites is pretty simple, but doing 1-1 redirects is always an issue. there’s several obstacles at play here.

    For starters, lots of companies selling separate mobile sites don’t always do a 1-1 mapping of content. They’ll sell an all javascript mobile site where there’s really only one URL, or they’ll use a completely different architecture and re-imagine the content. So where do you do your 1-1 redirects? There needs to be a strategy there. Google recommends not sending to the homepage, but when there is no mobile equivalent content, the home page is way better than a 404 or a desktop page that won’t load. you make trade offs.

    then there’s actually doing the redirects. I’ve had one fortune500 client who refused to install any server side languages on their server. that means no php or .net redirects, and they also disabled .htaccess – so redirects weren’t easy to do, especially when logic was required. The ability to use regular expressions or what not simply didn’t exist.

    Oh, and let’s throw in caching and server load balancing too. Many of these companies use a service like Akami for caching, and when your cache lives within a 3rd party so must your device detection and redirect logic.

    Now, throw in the fact that doing this change means you have to test and QA every paid search and display ad to ensure the parameters all pass through the device detection and redirects, and rebuild several analytics reports to account for the various URL changes or device types.

    And then there’s politics of the organizational structure – basically several different stakeholders for mobile and desktop who sometimes don’t even know each other exists.

    Both times I’ve done this in the past I’ve spent about 1 day on the strategy and deck, 3 months convincing all of the stakeholders it’s worth it, another month trying to get it prioritized among all of the other development requests, a week in dev, and another two weeks in QA.( and in one case a few years ago only to watch it all be undone a couple months later when whatever vendor they’ve chosen decided to “refresh” the mobile site creative and all of the redirects and canonical tags magically fell off.)

    That’s enterprise SEO…. and that’s why none of these sites comply.

  • Maccerz

    You sir have won the Internet. Best.Comment.Ever.

  • Colin Guidi

    Brilliant comment and insight into complexities with large sites, multiple decision owners, multiple agencies, and multiple headaches.

  • donthe

    This article seems to me to be pure fear-mongering. I’m surprised this was published by SEL.

    The only direct quote from Google regarding algorithm changes for smartphones is “We plan to roll out several ranking changes in the near future that address sites that are misconfigured for smartphone users.” Misconfigured means the redirects are screwed up. There has not been any statement from Google regarding penalizing websites that don’t have responsive design sites!

    The other quote from Matt Cutts is”“You really need to be thinking about mobile,” said Cutts during his keynote session, “We’re starting to think a lot about mobile”"
    Sure, go ahead and start thinking about mobile, but there is no evidence that any algorithm change penalizing sites that don’t use responsive design is imminent.

    I’m guessing Pure Oxygen Labs is in the market for some new clients and frankly shame on SEL for publishing this blatant sales pitch.

  • Melinda Colos

    just as Rebecca said I am blown away that you able to profit $7363 in one month on the internet. did you read this link w­w­w.K­E­P­2.c­o­m

  • Ronnie’s Mustache

    You’re absolutely right – couldn’t agree more!

    There’s a lot of misunderstanding around what exactly Matt/Google was trying to convey.

    I expect better analysis and reporting from SEL and their contributors.

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