As far back as June 2013, the search giant introduced a penalty for sites offering a bad experience to mobile users. Today, the signs are clear that a new mobile ranking algorithm is about to launch, one that could give a boost to sites that have earned Google’s mobile-friendly seal of approval.
For Google, a mobile-friendly site is one that avoids software that is not supported on mobile devices, like Flash. In addition, any text should be easy to read – in other words, you shouldn’t need to zoom in to make it legible or scroll across the screen to read a sentence. Google also says buttons or navigational links should have an appropriate amount of space between them so that the correct one can be easily tapped. Sites that meet Google’s criteria receive a “mobile-friendly” label in the mobile search results in an effort to guide users toward a better experience.
If you want to see if your pages meet Google’s mobile-friendly criteria, check them with the Mobile Friendly Test. Even better, you can find mobile usability issues across your entire site with the recently launched mobile usability reports in Google Webmaster Tools.
In recent weeks, Google has been sending mass notifications to webmasters whose websites are not mobile-friendly. These emails, sent via Google Webmaster Tools, warn “These pages will not be seen as mobile-friendly by Google Search, and will therefore be displayed and ranked appropriately for smartphone users.” Webmasters are then advised to fix these 6 key mobile usability issues to remain visible and relevant to users. Here’s a copy of the email sent to webmasters:
If that’s not enough to get you moving on mobile usability, consider this. Mobile usage has now eclipsed desktop usage worldwide. It’s not a question of whether mobile search is important – it is, and search engines are the most common starting point for mobile research on purchases.
A deeper look at users’ expectations found that 61% of people said they would quickly move on to another site if they didn’t find what they were looking for on a mobile site. And 67% of people indicated that they’d be more likely to buy from a mobile-friendly site. This isn’t surprising news to anyone with a smartphone. Making your site mobile-friendly turns users into customers, and that’s really the bottom line here.