Google’s New “Mobile-Friendly” Ranking Criteria
On November 18, Google introduced its new “mobile-friendly” label into its mobile search results. The goal of the label is to help the increasing number of mobile searchers find websites that are easily viewed and accessible on mobile devices. For sites that earn the “mobile-friendly” label, it will appear below the URL right before the site’s description, and a site will be considered “mobile-friendly” if it avoids common issues associated with poor mobile accessibility. In order to earn the label the site must:
- Avoid usage of uncommon mobile software, like Flash
- Utilize readable text that does not require zooming
- Size content to fit the screen and eliminate the need for horizontal scrolling
- Space links far enough apart to allow users to easily select the correct one
Google also announced that they would be experimenting with using these “mobile-friendly” conditions as ranking criteria. This could mean that websites that meet the “mobile-friendly” criteria would receive a boost in their mobile search ranking. However, this may be problematic for companies and individuals who have not invested in responsive web design or have limited web resources. Prior to the announcement, Google’s algorithm already penalized websites that generated errors and caused consistently poor mobile experience. Websites that have not earned the label will most likely still rank in search results as long as they do not generate mobile errors, but the algorithm will prioritize sites with the “mobile-friendly” tag.
It may be the right time for companies and individuals to consider investing in responsive web design as more and more internet searching transitions from desktop to mobile, and the ranking boost is certainly an excellent bonus as well. Not sure if your site is optimized for mobile usage? Google launched a “Mobile-Friendly Test” tool for you to check the “friendliness” of your webpages, and they updated their Webmasters Mobile Guide to provide helpful guidelines on how to update or optimize your site for mobile use.