We all knew it was coming, but we didn’t know exactly when. Over the last few weeks we’ve been getting some notifications from Webmaster tools about some of the sites we host:
Of course at this point you may be wondering why we have any sites that aren’t mobile responsive. Some of these sites were older sites, one was a site created by a teacher solely for the use of his students so they could have access to some learning material and one was an example sites we use with clients to teach them about the importance of SEO.
We also decided to leave one or two sites as non-responsive because we wanted to measure at what point Google started noticing, these were smaller sites with less traffic and ones we maintain for education purposes as opposed to user/consumer purposes. This latest message from Webmaster Tools corresponds really well with a recent post on TheSEMPost by Jennifer Slegg on upcoming Mobile Ranking changes in Google and we we thought it might be a great opportunity for us to show you what updating to a mobile responsive theme meant for Web Analytics World.
What Mobile Responsive means for WAW
We started looking at mobile responsive designs for Web Analytics World at the beginning of 2014 because we wanted our audience to be able to access our information no matter where they were. Prior to April 2014 we were using a WordPress Plugin to create a basic mobile site but were excited about the possibilities a mobile responsive theme would offer the site and our users. At the outset of our transition we weren’t sure how much of a difference we would see with a responsive design because our mobile traffic was such a small part of the overall WAW picture.
On April 18th, 2014 we switched over our website theme, upgraded all the corresponding elements and widgets and after a lot of testing to make sure we hadn’t missed anything we sat back and waited. It’s been almost a year since the update and we’ve been pleasantly surprised by the difference in Mobile Traffic that we’ve seen:
When we look at our analytics and compare April 1st, 2014 to March 20th to the previous year by week we can see how much a difference updating to a mobile responsive site has made to WAW. As you can see above for the first few months after the switch we saw a slight improvement but it wasn’t until the beginning of June that we start to notice a more significant change.
This could be partly because we didn’t advertise our theme upgrade over social channels (possibly a missed opportunity) but analytics is a bit like losing weight, it can take at least 6 weeks to notice any significant changes. We tend to use a monthly trendline with our WAW analytics because we post weekly and this gives us a better idea of improvement over the entire site as opposed to a specific post/week.
Taking a look at our mobile overview pie chart we again get to see the difference between this year and last year with respect to the breakdown of mobile sessions.
In 2014 the bulk of our sessions were desktop users, while we did have the mobile plugin and it did the job it wasn’t as user friendly as a responsive site can be. Our mobile sessions were 1.5% of our total sessions for that period.
So far this year our mobile sessions have increased from 1.5% to 12.5% during this period which is a good improvement. Our tablet sessions haven’t altered much and when we look at our devices our table traffic is predominantly from Apple iPads. Our mobile plugin was set for smaller screens than the iPad so not seeing a large change in tablet traffic isn’t something we’d worry about.
It will be interesting to see how these numbers and stats change for our site over the next year as more mobile updates/changes are implemented by the search engines. So far we’re pleased with the overall improvement of our mobile traffic/sessions and as we continue to move forward in updating and upgrading Web Analytics World during 2015. We’ll also be keeping an eye on our smaller sites which we’ll be updating to mobile responsive designs over the next few weeks and see what changes/improvements we notice in their analytics over the next year.