A survey of Australian SMEs has found the majority of businesses felt ‘Mobilegeddon’ – or the impact of Google’s recent mobile update – was overhyped and confusion still surrounds the final effects of the update.

UK company, Koozai, asked 800 SMEs across Australia how they have fared since Google’s mobile update. The survey found many businesses had experienced a drop in organic rankings and traffic, even though they had optimised their websites for mobile.

In other findings, 43 per cent of businesses claimed they had experienced changes to their rankings or traffic as a result of the Google update.

Drops in rankings and traffic to sites

The survey found 35 per cent were concerned they had seen a drop in rankings by at least three places and had noticed a drop in traffic as a result, some as much as 50 per cent.

At least 23 per cent of respondents had seen a drop in rankings even though they had optimised for mobile. Of the businesses responding, 36 per cent said they were concerned the update might have an impact on sales, while 41 per cent were not worried as they said most of their sales came from desktops.

About 17 per cent of respondents said they didn’t know whether their websites were optimised for mobile or not. A significant number of SMEs in the survey were unsure about the relationship between mobile and desktop searches, with 61 per cent revealing they didn’t know if sales on their desktops sites had initially come from visitors viewing their products or services on mobile.

One SME owner leaving a comment on the survey summed up the general mood of business owners: “I had my website optimised for mobile months before this update. Before the update I was at the top of Google for some keywords on mobile search. Now I’m three or four, below websites which aren’t showing the ‘mobile-friendly’ tag!”

Even small changes impact mobile search results

CEO of Koozai, Ben Norman said: “The hype that the Google mobile update would cause carnage in the search engine rankings missed the larger picture. Exaggerating the impact meant that businesses didn’t anticipate that even small changes in their ranking can have an big impact on their organic mobile search results.

“With more than 200 Google ranking factors, many businesses may have dropped in the organic search results when a competitor optimised for mobile because they were better optimised for some of these other ranking factors.

“The survey also uncovered a worrying lack of understanding in the SME community of ecommerce analytics. Many consumers today will research on mobile than go onto purchase on desktop. Many SMEs are missing out on these lead creation opportunities if they don’t know if their ecommerce sites aren’t giving their potential customers a good experience on mobile.”