Google rewards the mobile friendly

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As of November, Google has been adding a ‘mobile-friendly’ tag to its mobile search results, resulting in speculation around whether these mobile friendly sites will be pushed to the top of search results, taking the place of sites that are not mobile optimised. We know that Google already penalises sites that provide a bad mobile experience, so this addition would be the next logical step for the search giant.

Google has said that it ‘sees the labels as a first step in helping mobile users to have a better mobile web experience’ and has confirmed that it is indeed ‘experimenting with using mobile-friendly criteria as a ranking signal’.

Whether this will mean non mobile-friendly sites will be banished from the first page of results is unknown, but what we do know is how you qualify for the ‘mobile-friendly’ tag:

– Avoid software that is not common on mobiles
– Include text that is visible without zooming
– Size content to fit the screen
– Place links far enough apart so that the right one can be selected

Google has released these criteria with a host of tools to help sites become mobile friendly, and sent out mass scale notifications last month via email and webmaster tools, warning non mobile-friendly sites that they will not rank as highly for mobile searches.

The search giant has never sent out messages on this scale before – instead choosing to inform webmasters when an issue arises within their mobile site – implying that there may well be a mobile-boosting algorithm coming into effect soon.

Mobile search is growing, with 80% of internet users owning a smartphone, and 81% of mobile users starting their journey on a search engine or company website. Although desktop searches still outnumber mobile, it is important to remember why people search on mobile: convenience. Mobile searchers want to find their answer as quickly as possible.

If your site doesn’t receive many ‘long clicks’ (when searchers stay on your site, as opposed to going straight back to search results), then Google will lower your ranking, which is arguably going to happen more if you aren’t mobile optimised. We can assume that web clicks won’t have any influence on this ranking system, but will mobile clicks affect web rankings?

People use the internet differently, with preferences for desktop or mobile search varying between industries and demographics – so it’ll be interesting to see how the latest update affects site traffic, and whether a rise in mobile-optimised sites soon follows.

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