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Google’s massive mobile update is on its way, slated to start a little less than a month from now – on April 21st. A member of the Google Webmaster Team just announced this update will be significantly larger than Panda and Penguin. This warning, coupled with the blog post Google released nearly two months ahead of the update, further underlines the impending extensiveness of this algorithmic change. If we take a second to think about how large Panda and Penguin already were – Panda docked all websites engaging in sub-standard page quality practices (it specifically checked the content quality of a page) and Penguin docked websites engaging in sub-standard linking practices – an update even more widespread than these will surely be disruptive. Mobilegeddon will dock all websites not yet optimized for mobile usability. But how much of an impact will this update have on your website?

To answer this, we leverage the performance and mobile error data Google has provided to determine an approximate hit to Impressions, Clicks, CTR and Average Position. In this post we’ll help you prepare for the worst by showing you how to:

  1. Determine which data to use
  2. Download and organize mobile usability data
  3. Download Top Pages performance data
  4. Combine Top Pages Performance data with mobile usability data

Pick Your Poison – Determine Which Data to Use

Your first step in this analysis? Select the GWT (Google Webmaster Tools) profile corresponding with your non-mobile optimized pages. Here’s how to tell which one to pick:

  1. If your site can only be accessed by one domain (www), then choose www as you have no other choice.
  2. If your site uses www for desktop and m. for mobile, choose the www version. I’m going to assume – read “pray” – that your m. is mobile optimized. If it is not, you will need to perform this analysis against that profile as well.
  3. If you have mobile in a directory such as…

a. Shame on you and why?

b. This should have its own profile in GWT to track performance against mobile pages only. If you don’t have that setup…

c. Shame on you again and follow these instructions on how to setup subdirectories to Google Webmaster Tools.

One of the websites I’m currently working on for a client is NOT mobile optimized and only on a www. Let’s see how much mobile traffic we’re getting before the update…


Yep. I’m no rocket scientist, but that looks like we can expect an approximate 20% hit in traffic. Next step? Let’s see what types of usability errors are currently present on our pages.

Get Organized – Download and Organize Mobile Usability Data

Head over to the Mobile Usability section in GWT and download, one at a time, each mobile usability error report. Here’s how:


1. Select the first named error, and view its report.

2. From there, click to download the report. No need to show additional rows as this one will download up to 1,000.


*I’m not sure if these 1,000 are chosen at random, most important, visited, etc. However, we can use what is here to draw conclusions later on.

3. Repeat this process until all reports have been downloaded.

4. Combine the reports into one file with each report in its own tab then rename as you see fit.


 5. Add a column to the end of each data set and identify the type of error.



6. Combine all data to view the amount of errors present at the URL level.

a. Select ALT+D, then P. This will bring up the PivotTable Wizard.


b. Select multiple consolidation ranges and PivotTable (or also chart if you please), click next.

c. Select create a single page field for me, click next.


d. Select Add and go through each tab, select your entire data set one tab at a time then add the next tab until you have all tabs combined, click next.


e. Now we have our pivot table summarizing every error at the URL level. Just filter out “Last Detected” as this information is not as relevant to our analysis.



Great, now we know how many errors we have total, and which URLs the update will specifically affect. Looking at this list of errors you’re probably thinking… Okay, I have work to do, but where do I even start? To answer this question, let’s figure out how much traffic is currently coming into your site from each URL, how much of an impact we stand to lose overall from this update, and prioritize our workload accordingly.

Pro Tip: At this point, you might get lucky and spot trends signaling a specific template causing the brunt of your site’s errors and make a quick fix. If not? No sweat. We’ll simply continue onto our next step, prioritizing our optimization efforts by the amount of traffic a page garners instead of what type of page or template it uses.

What’s the Prognosis Doc? – Download Top Pages Performance Data

Here’s how we’ll assess what’s at stake for your website, performance-wise, once Mobilegeddon hits.

  1. Head over to the top pages report, set the filter to mobile to show all top pages in the mobile SERPs – If you wish, extend your date range to include the last three months of data.
  2. Add the parameter “&grid.s=500” to the end of your URL to get all your top pages. Change the 500 to however many rows you need.
  3. Click to download this table.
  4. Add this GWT Data to your working file in its own tab. You should now have a file which looks something like this:


All Together Now– Combine Top Pages Performance Data with Mobile Usability Data

Now it’s time to combine the data!

1. Copy the headers for the columns in the Pivot tab and paste right next to your GWT data so it looks something like this:


2. Apply a VLOOKUP to find if a URL in the GWT tab matches one in the Pivot summary tab, return the value. You’ll need to apply this same formula across the row, however you’ll need to change which column it checks.


3. Fill in the formula across the row and change the second to last number in each formula to 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and so on. Here are some examples… =IFERROR(VLOOKUP($A2,Pivot!$2:$8,2,0),””), =IFERROR(VLOOKUP($A2,Pivot!$2:$8,3,0),””), =IFERROR(VLOOKUP($A2,Pivot!$2:$8,4,0),””), etc.

4. Drag and fill these formulas down.


And just like that… you now have mobile usability error data matched up with GWT performance data!

From here you can apply a filter to exclude URLs with no errors and see if there are similarities in the types of pages affected. You can also calculate the sum of Impressions and Clicks, which you can then compare to your overall numbers to get an idea of what percentage of traffic this group of pages typically accrues.

Tight on Resources? – If you are tight on developer resources, tackle the pages which garner the most traffic first, then move down your list accordingly. At this point in the game, it’s better to do as much as you can to protect your top traffic-driving pages than to wait months to do an entire mobile overhaul all at once.

Follow these steps, and you’ll brave Google’s mobile-friendly update like a champ. Mobilegeddon? Shmobilegeddon!


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1 Comment
  • David Hughes
    David Hughes

    Great overview and like the thoughtful approach to solving this fast approaching problem!

    March 31, 2015 at 12:05 pm Reply
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