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Google’s mobile friendly search updates

04/03/2015, By Andrew Doyle On February 26th, Google announced significant changes to how it provides mobile results to its users. As of April 21st, Google will begin extending its use of a website’s ‘mobile friendliness’ – its view of how suited a website is to users on mobile devices - as a ranking factor in the search results. This change will only affect mobile search results, although Google has stated that the change will have a ‘significant’ impact.

This is just the latest in a long list of updates over the last year that Google has announced through its Webmaster Central blog:
  • In November 2014, Google added a mobile friendly tab to its search results. This visually displays mobile friendly sites to mobile users directly within the result pages
  • Alongside this, a mobile testing tool was launched to help site owners determine whether their website meets Google’s mobile friendly criteria
  • Google Webmaster Tools also gives mobile usability feedback, which includes broadly the same parameters as the mobile testing tool
  • Google has greatly expanded its guide to creating mobile friendly websites. You can find it here.
Alongside promoting mobile friendly sites within its results, this update will also use information from indexed apps as a ranking signal. App indexing has continued to grow since 2013 and allows webmasters to connect pages from a website to an Android app. This will affect only Android users who are signed into Google and have the app installed on their phone. This change will greatly increase the visibility of apps within the result pages.

Most websites will be very effectively rendered on mobile devices due to the standards of mobile web browsers. However, the key element to understand here is that, with these changes, Google is looking to promote the websites that offer the optimal user experience to mobile users, such as responsive and mobile specific websites.

If you do not provide a specific solution for mobile users, then you may see visibility across mobile search results reduce, which in turn may affect your website’s traffic. The most important thing to understand is - how do your existing visitors use your website? Do they use mobile devices? How important are mobile users to the success of your site?

We would always advocate creating the best possible user experience for mobile users. The internet is truly a multi-device landscape with potential customers accessing the web from a huge range of different devices. However, a strong understanding of your customers and how your existing site is being used will help you to prioritise your mobile users and when to create an optimal mobile experience.

Our Client Services team will be in touch with our clients to provide them with more specific information on the above, although we’re happy to answer questions from anyone concerned by Google’s changes. Just get in touch.

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