Google is prioritizing mobile-friendly search

4/30/2015,
by Anna Umanenko, CMO
mobile-friendly search

 

The new search algorithm that Google launched on April 21, 2015 is the greatest change ever affecting mobile search rankings. The latest update from Google now gives priority to websites that are mobile-friendly, putting them higher in smartphone search results. 

 

What to expect from the Google search engine now

 

The new algorithm will not affect search results that users receive on their desktop and laptop computers. If you consider the latest tendency for making purchases and searching for products and services via mobile devices, it will impact the way people spend money online. The algorithm change is really deep as before its launch no less than 40 percent of top search result websites were not mobile-friendly.

As a result, websites that have been mobile-friendly before Google announced its new search formula will quite possibly experience an unexpected rise in their website traffic from smartphones or tablets. And because more and more people are choosing mobile devices instead of laptops, Google aims to improve the experience of its mobile users through this major update.

 

mobile-friendly website

To meet Google's requirements, a website needs to load quickly with its content adjusted for a small screen (including text and buttons). If the website is developed for desktop use only, images and content are not displayed properly and it takes more time for the website to load on a mobile device. 

 

Why Google finally changed the rules

 

It's been several years since Google suggested that websites adjust for mobile devices due to the increasing number of mobile Internet users. At the end of 2014, at least 29 percent of all searches in the U.S. were performed through a mobile device (18.5 billion searches). And Google processes about two thirds of all search requests in the U.S., with this percentage being even higher in other countries.

 

adjusting websites to mobile devices

It is anticipated that non-mobile-friendly websites ranking #1 or #2 in search results, may go down to the middle or bottom of page 1 or even to page 2, and as a result will lose significant visibility. The change in search rankings will mostly hurt the interests of small businesses, and not the large companies. 

 

The drawbacks of the "mobile-friendly" algorithm

 

To minimize the "damage" to the websites that are not mobile-friendly, Google announced the algorithm launch two months prior to the actual date of release. They also created an online test tool and guide to check how mobile-friendly the website is and how to fix problems.

 

responsive design for mobile devices

Another problem concerns Google's search formula. The complex algorithm is based on a number of factors. One of the most important factors has always been the relationship between a website's content vs. a user's search request. With the launch of the "mobile-friendly" algorithm, the content that is pertinent to search requests, but is not adjusted for mobile, will move down the search results page, giving way to the websites that meet the mobile-friendly requirements. But even this inconvenience for a user can be justified by their unwillingness to navigate sites that load slowly and have content that is unreadable on a mobile device. 

 

What you can do to avoid Google penalties

 

If you are not sure if your website is mobile-friendly and what changes are specifically required, you can follow this simple checklist:

1. Use Google Page Insights (https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/) to test your website speed. Type the page URL and Google will analyze the page, show the general page score and then list issues that need to be fixed. With this tool you can evaluate both mobile and desktop performance and measure user experience.
2. Also, through Google Webmaster Tools (https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/) you can check whether your website is mobile-friendly. All you have to do is enter the page URL and wait for the results.
3. After you find out the results through these Google tests, you can begin to take the necessary steps to make your site mobile-friendly. Contact your webmaster or Onix-Systems for solutions to these problems if you don't have in-house expertise to address these critical, potentially business-changing updates from Google. 

 

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