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Google’s Mobile-Friendly Search Results

Google has just announced the introduction of a ‘mobile friendly’ label which will appear in their mobile search results, to indicate which websites are likely to work better to visitors clicking into the site from a smartphone search. Linked to this, there are reports that Google is also testing this ‘mobile friendly’ criteria as a ranking signal to help improve the positions for sites that are geared up for mobile searchers.

This new ‘mobile-friendly’ label in Google’s mobile search results is intended to alleviate the common frustration of searchers on a mobile phone that can occur when the website has not been optimised to be viewed on a mobile. It is already starting to appear in results in the US and will be rolling out globally over the next few weeks.

In order to achieve a ‘mobile friendly’ label, a website will need to meet the following criteria, as detected by Googlebot – the automated programme that visits and indexes the website pages:

  • It avoids software that is not common on mobile devices, like Flash
  • It uses text that is readable without zooming
  • The page content is sized to the screen (such as responsive designs), so users don’t have to scroll horizontally or zoom in
  • It places links far enough apart so that the correct one can be easily tapped.

Related to this identification and labelling of ‘mobile friendly’ websites, are the reports that Google is testing this criteria as a ranking signal for its mobile search engine results. This would mean that websites designed only for desktop or laptop screens may be pushed lower down the rankings on a mobile-search results pages, whereas those seen to be ‘mobile friendly’ will get a ranking boost in the future.

Google is currently conducting limited A/B tests of the mobile criteria, involving thousands of individual users so that some see one set of results while others see a different set, to see which results perform better based on a number of usability criteria. A spokesman declined to comment on when Google might integrate the new ranking criteria fully into mobile-search results, but this would seem to be a likely extension of the labelling policy and aim to encourage site owners to make their websites more mobile friendly and so take advantage of this growing area of search traffic.

If you would like to know more about how to make your website eligible for the ‘mobile-friendly’ label, please contact us now.