January 28, 2015
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Is your website mobile-friendly? If the latest Google rumours are anything to go by, it should be…
The search engine giant recently sent mass notifications to webmasters who operate sites that are not optimised for mobile platforms. Sent via email and Google Webmaster Tools, these users were notified that the pages “will not be seen as mobile-friendly by Google Search, and will therefore be displayed and ranked appropriately for smartphone users”.
Hinting that penalisation is imminent, webmasters were advised to “fix mobile usability issues” on their sites. These notifications suggest that Google is preparing to launch a new mobile ranking algorithm.
These changes are not entirely new. In fact, Google has been targeting mobile sites for a while now. Back in June 2013, Software Engineer Yoshikiyo Kato said the following in a blog post:
“To improve the search experience for smartphone users and address their pain points, we plan to roll out several ranking changes in the near future that address sites that are misconfigured for smartphone users.”
Since then, Google has released a number of tools to help webmasters check their site is properly optimised for smartphone and tablet use. With the mobile-friendly testing tool, webmasters can drop in a URL and Google will analyse how well it performs on a mobile platform. Perhaps most helpful, Google will actually pinpoint the main issues found on the pages, so you can develop a plan of action.
In addition, webmasters can view mobile usability reports for their site. You may have also noticed the mobile-friendly labels that are visible on the SERPs on mobile devices. These clearly notify the searcher of the status of the site, helping users to avoid frustrating, non-mobile-friendly pages.
The developments, along with the recent notifications, all point towards the launch of a mobile algorithm. Google clearly has their sights set on the ever-growing mobile search market and, for ranking purposes, webmasters are encouraged to work alongside rather than against the search engine.
There’s no denying that how we search has changed. Previously, desktop searches dominated and, while they still represent a large proportion of the search culture, tablets and smartphone statistics are growing in popularity.
The influx of mobile searchers to a website can only be a good thing — if the site is properly optimised for mobile devices, of course. If your site is not mobile-friendly, users become frustrated, causing bounce rates to rise.
To avoid this, heed Google’s warning and ensure your website is properly optimised for mobile visitors before it is too late.
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