Stephen BaldwinStephen Baldwin

Next Wednesday (October 21) marks the six-month anniversary of Google's so-called "Mobilegeddon" ultimatum to Website owners: Become mobile-friendly or suffer a drop in mobile search rankings.

So it seemed an excellent moment to revisit the mobile-friendliness of sites belonging to the largest U.S. PR firms—as ranked by O'Dwyer's—to assess the industry's progress (or lack thereof) in this important area of communication.

Assessing Mobilegeddon's impact on rankings and traffic

Two studies published several months after the 4/21 deadline quantify Mobilegeddon's negative effects. According to Adobe, "the negative effects of Mobilegeddon on sites that were not optimized for mobile resulted in a decrease of up to 10 percent in organic traffic." 

Another study, by Stone Temple Consulting, found that  "nearly half of (non-mobile friendly sites) dropped in rankings, and 2.3 times as many dropped as went up. In contrast, the Mobile Friendly pages fared much better, with an overall increase in rankings."

If these studies are to be believed, it's clear that Mobilegeddon was definitely not a "Chicken Little" scenario: the sky really did fall for some sites.

PR agency sites make progress

When last we looked at the performance of major PR agency sites just before April 21, we confronted a depressing situation: Among the 96 sites we tested, only 55 sites, or 57.3 percent, were mobile-friendly. However, when we re-ran our tests this week, we were happy to find that 17 agency sites which had initially failed Google's Mobile Friendly Test passed with flying colors.

Seventy-two PR agency sites (of 96 tested) now pass the test, making for an overall industry pass rate of 75 percent. This is a significant achievement, given that fixing mobile usability problems—especially on complex or heavily customized Websites—often entails plenty of technical grunt work.  

Let's applaud the management of the following sites, because they both recognized the threat posed by Mobilegeddon posed and acted quickly enough to avert any likely damage:

PR agency sites that have become mobile-friendly since April 21, 2015:

Coyne PR (coynepr.com)
Edelman Worldwide (edelman.com)
Finn Partners (finnpartners.com)
French West Vaughan (fwv-us.com)
Gibbs & Soell (gibbs-soell.com)
Gregory FCA (gregoryfca.com)
Kaplow PR (kaplow.com)
Lewis PR (lewispr.com)
Max Borges Agency (maxborgesagency.com)
Prosek Partners (prosek.com)
Public Communications Inc. (pcipr.com)
rbb Public Relations (rbbpr.com)
SparkPR (sparkpr.com)
SPM Communications (spmcommunications.com)
The JeffreyGroup LLC (jeffreygroup.com)
Waggener Edstrom (waggeneredstrom.com)
William Mills Agency (williammills.com)

PR agency sites that are not mobile-friendly six months after 4/21/2015:

Blaze PR (blazepr.com)
Bliss Integrated Communications (blissintegrated.com)
Cerrell (cerrell.com)
CooperKatz & Company Inc. (cooperkatz.com)
DKC (dkcnews.com)
Dukas Public Relations (dukaspr.com)
Foodminds LLC (foodminds.com)
Formula (formulapr.com)
Integrated Corporate Relations Inc. (icrinc.com/en)
Intermarket Communications (intermarket.com)
J Public Relations (jpublicrelations.com)
Jackson Spaulding (jacksonspalding.com)
Kohnstamm Communications (kohnstamm.com)
Kyne (kyne.com)
Makowsky Integrated Communications (makovsky.com)
Maxwell PR (maxwellpr.com)
OCG PR (ocgpr.com)
Peppercomm (peppercomm.com)
RF | Binder (www.rfbinder.com)
SachsMedia Group (sachsmedia.com)
Schneider Associates (schneiderpr.com)
Standing Partnership (standingpartnership.com)

We cannot say whether these sites have suffered any traffic or rankings losses; all we can do is recommend that their management take the steps required for compliance as soon as possible. Mobile traffic is rising and in some cases exceeding desktop traffic in certain industries, so it's critical that agency sites work as well on mobile devices as they do on desktops.

The hoary claim that "nobody selects a PR agency on a mobile phone" is not, in our view, an effective defense against the future. So it is hoped that the sites listed above will become mobile-friendly before too much additional time elapses.

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Stephen Baldwin is Editor-in-Chief at Didit Communications.