Google Search to Favor Mobile-Friendly Sites

Corporate sites which aren’t optimized for smartphones’ smaller screens could see their ranks downgraded in mobile search.
Katie Kuehner-HebertApril 21, 2015
Google Search to Favor Mobile-Friendly Sites

Google began rolling out its previously announced “mobile-friendly update” on Tuesday. The update boosts the ranking of mobile-friendly pages on mobile search results.

“Now searchers can more easily find high-quality and relevant results where text is readable without tapping or zooming, tap targets are spaced appropriately, and the page avoids unplayable content or horizontal scrolling,” Google wrote on its blog.

The move also means sites which aren’t optimized for smartphones’ smaller screens could see their ranks downgraded in search.

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The update affects only search rankings on mobile devices, affects search results in all languages globally, and applies to individual pages, not entire websites. However, if a page with high-quality content is not mobile-friendly, it could still rank high if it has great content for the query, the Mountain View, Calif., company said.

A TechCrunch article Tuesday said that Google stands to lose revenue if people searching for brand information on their mobile devices turn to other sources.

“[Google]’s bottom line is affected by how many mobile users turn to its search engine to explore the web, allowing it to serve ads against searchers’ intent,” TechCrunch wrote.

“But on mobile, users have often found better ways of interacting with the content and online properties they frequent — by way of native mobile applications built especially with a mobile device’s small form-factor in mind and able to take advantage of mobile OS features like push notifications, for example, to retain users’ engagement.”

Tech Crunch cited eMarketer stats showing that while Google owned half of the mobile ad market in 2013, its share declined to 46.8% in 2014. Meanwhile, Facebook’s share of the market grew from 5.4% of global ad spending in 2012, to 21.7% in 2014.

“Google’s decision to force website owners to make their sites work better on mobile devices, then, isn’t just about making web searchers happier; it’s about making sure that Google can retain its position as a useful service in the age of mobile,” TechCrunch wrote.