Earlier in the week, Google announced that they will soon be rolling out several ranking changes that will affect websites that have not been optimised for use on smartphone devices. These changes will effectively force owners to fix their mobile website configuration issues otherwise they will risk being downranked in search results. Website owners who have yet to jump on the bandwagon of the mobile trend will need to act quickly if they want to be spared.
A number of the ‘mistakes’ that Google will be targeting with these changes include: desktop pages that redirect smartphone users to irrelevant pages on the mobile website (usually the homepage), desktop pages that redirect to 404 error pages instead of the smartphone-friendly page, incorrect handling of Googlebot-Mobile, and many more. The most damaging mistake, however, will be the use of embedded video that does not play on smartphones, such as Flash.
If you have ever used your smartphone to browse the internet, it’s likely that you have dealt with some of these problems first hand. You do a search, tap on a result in order to read the corresponding article and find yourself staring, dazed and confused, at the website’s mobile-optimized homepage. What happened to the article you wanted to read? Who knows! As well as being annoying, Google understands that dealing with this is a waste of your time and bandwidth.
Google said that “smartphone users are a significant and fast growing segment” and that they want them to “experience the full richness of the web”, which is why they are rolling out these changes. Because Google has such a big influence on the internet – they have 83.18% of the search market share on desktops and 81.02% share on mobiles worldwide – these changes are set to change the way that we browse the web and other browsers are sure to follow.
So, how long do website owners have to make the changes that Google has said they will be trying to wheedle out? The internet mogul has yet to announce the release date of these changes to their algorithm, only saying that they will occur in the “near future”. What this really means is that website owners should be making their websites mobile-friendly as quickly as possible, especially if they want to ensure that their ranking is unaffected when the changes are made.
Image Source: XKCD