Mobilegeddon: One of these Retail Sites is Not Like the Other

Internet retailers saw Mobilegeddon - the name given to a recent Google algorithm update that makes mobile-friendliness a more significant part of how the search engine delivers mobile results - come and go with little to show for the hype, at least for those who were expecting and planning for the update. 


Many brands who have yet to launch mobile-friendly sites (either with a dedicated website or one using responsive or adaptive Web design), however, have seen their rankings drop. BrightEdge researchers, for instance, determined that as of April 27 (not even a full week after Google's "deadline") there was a 21 percent decrease in the number of non-mobile-friendly URLs on the first three pages of the SERPs compared to before the update. 


Popular retailer American Apparel may have been one of those companies hit. Although it is still ranking for organic keywords like American Apparel, leggings and wholesale t-shirts (see SEMrush screenshot below), the company saw a significant drop in organic traffic.



American Apparel's traffic fluctuation can likely be attributed to the fact that it does not offer a mobile-friendly website.



How significant was the drop?


A look at Alexa's traffic report shows that (in a three-month average), American Apparel's global rank dropped more than 1,000 positions (although this information does not separate mobile traffic vs. desktop traffic). 



Not all retailers, however, played the wait-and-see game. Merz Apothecary, which just celebrated its 140th birthday, launched a new mobile site for its digital property, in conjunction with their ecommerce partner Celerant Technology.



In the first few weeks since launch has already seen overall conversation rate increase by nearly 37 percent, number of pages per session increase by 17 percent and transactions on mobile via organic Google search up 200 percent, as well as sales on the whole up 300 percent. 


The results are not just direct. Prior to its mobile optimization, channel partner RetailMeNot was not referring leads to at all. Now, the site converts an average of five transactions per week referred from RetailMeNot. 



While May and June traffic data has not yet been reported by (at least for non-Pro users of the service), it seems to be on the rise for, as indicated in April's information:



The opposite is true for American Apparel:



While and are far from competitors, the comparison can be made that those retail sites that optimized their digital properties for mobile Web users are reaping the benefits, and the opposite is true for those that have not. The good news is that it's not too late to make a site mobile-friendly and get back in Google's good graces.