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Google rolls out update that ranks mobile-optimized sites more favorably on mobile searches

By Jasper Oregas & Koh Wanzi - on 22 Apr 2015, 12:43pm

Google rolls out update that ranks mobile-optimized sites more favorably on mobile searches

Image Source: Google

According to market research firm eMarketer, the number of smartphone users in the world will grow to just over 2 billion in 2016. Smartphones are making their way into the hands of more and more consumers around the globe, which means that a growing proportion of users of Google’s search engine are going to be mobile users.

Not one to ignore trends, Google has now rolled out an update that will boost the rankings of mobile-friendly pages on mobile search results. These changes will only affect search rankings on mobile devices but will impact search results in all languages across the globe. However, it only applies to the rankings of individual pages and not entire websites.

This will probably help to avoid excessively penalizing sites that only have specific pages that are not optimized for mobile and allow them to rectify the issue. For instance, the BBC noted that the home page of the European Union is not mobile-friendly, but the rest of the site is.

In a post earlier this year, Google said that the proposed changes to more mobile-friendly search results would have a “significant impact” on search results, which should make any company without a mobile-optimized site sit up and take notice. End users should also be embracing the changes with open arms – after all, it can be quite a hassle to deal with small text that doesn’t scale to your phone’s screen, inappropriately spaced click zones, and horizontal scrolling.

Nevertheless, Google said yesterday that mobile-optimization is not the be all and end all of search results. It says it still uses a variety of signals to rank search results, so pages with high-quality content could still rank high even if they are not mobile-friendly.

With that said, companies can no longer afford to put off optimizing their sites for mobile. TechCrunch reported that 44% of Fortune 500 companies do not have mobile-friendly sites – a sizeable and surprising proportion in our mobile-centric era. In fact, Search Engine Watch reported last year that mobile usage had exceeded PC internet usage for the first time ever.

Companies can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to examine individual for mobile optimization, or check the status of the entire site with the Mobile Usability report in Webmaster Tools. Google says that non-mobile-optimized sites may notice a significant decrease in mobile traffic from Google Search, but the site will automatically be re-indexed once it becomes mobile friendly.

Source: Google