Google’s Take on Mobile Search and What Websites Must Do

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How efficient is your website? If you were to access your site from any mobile device, would you be satisfied with the experience?

For some years, there has been a lot of talk about mobile-responsiveness, yet a good number of website are yet to adapt. The mobile craze is not without good reason. In 2015, Google’s search chief Amit Singal announced that for the first time, more searches were conducted on mobile than on desktops.

It’s no secret that while the search giant dominates the search industry on desktop, it still competes fiercely with companies like Facebook and Apple for mobile search browsers. It’s not surprising to note that it has since taken measure to correct that situation.

In 2015, Google decided to wage war on websites that were not mobile friendly by giving site owners an ultimatum to become responsive or drop in search rankings. The decision paid off because many website owners soon switched to a responsive interface.

At the time, Google started putting labels on sites for “mobile friendly” and giving them a better ranking position on its search engine result pages (SERPs).

According to Brendan, digital marketing analyst at Domain 4 Less “Mobile compatibility does not only improve your SEO, it creates an enhanced user experience for visitors. It helps you get more visitors and then convert a larger proportion of them. It is one of the most practical steps you can take to increase the ROI you make in your business.”

However, despite the fact that the push for mobile responsiveness is in full swing, there are websites that are suffering the effects of the latest Panda update. We have not heard the last of Mobilegeddon, nor is it going away. It is a requirement that is here to stay.

Here are a few things to consider in the coming months.

Google is coming for websites with intrusive interstitials
Mobile compatibility is still a priority for Google. Although it announced last year that it was dropping the “mobile friendly” tag because 85% of searches for website on its mobile SERP were mobile friendly, it is still coming for websites in other ways.

As part of a mop-up activity following Mobilegeddon, Google has asked websites with intrusive interstitials (pop-up ads) to remove them or face de-ranking. These giant boxes which appear immediately a visitor lands on a mobile site is a major reason for poor user experience. There are however, some exceptions like age restriction boxes or cookie policy information and paywall dialogue boxes.

Businesses will still lose search traffic if they are not mobile friendly
On February 7, webmasters experienced an update that seemed to affect many websites. While they were not sure about the details of the update, sites most hit where those yet to convert to mobile-responsive status. It is possible for a website with a high search listing on desktop to drop in mobile search listing, simply because it is not optimised.

It is important to consider that if you run an ecommerce website , you are better off ranking higher on mobile search than on desktop. This is because shoppers are more likely to search on mobile, even though they complete the purchase on the seller’s desktop site.

Mobile search rankings differ a lot from desktop search rankings today
If you still think desktop search is the same as mobile search, you are wrong. In 2011, SEO expert Rand Fishkin didn’t think much about mobile SEO. In fact, he predicted that at some point, both search rankings would converge and become one, thus making mobile site redundant.

Today, the reverse is the case with mobile sites being even more relevant. Considering the unique nature of smartphones, search engines have optimised the ways desktop and smartphones receive search results. There is evidence that this started even long before Google effected the mobile-friendly update. As far back as June 2014, it was reported that mobile search results differed from desktop by 62% and variance continues to increase till today.

Websites not optimised for multiple screens will have it tough
It’s not just enough to be mobile-friendly, but is your site compatible with the different kinds of mobile browsers available? Mobilegeddon isn’t going to end anytime soon. As long as your site is found wanting in one mobile feature or the other, you could be exposed to a search demotion.

As long as the number of smartphone users continues to grow, and use their phones to search, Google isn’t going to relinquish its efforts to promote mobile-friendly websites. There are multiple devices with different operating systems. From Android to iPhone and Blackberry, Google wants you to ensure your site is optimised for mobile search on these systems.

Keep improving your site to suit the latest mobile search trends so you don’t suffer a hit at Google’s next core update. If you are not yet mobile-friendly, do something about it immediately. In the world of SEO you can’t afford to be lax about your search status (on both desktop and mobile) because you could be left behind in a second.

Google Tools: How do you know your mobile-friendly status?
In a bid to make it easy for site owners to migrate their platforms, Google has launched a mobile-friendly test tool. This API (application programming interface) helps site managers determine the mobile-friendly status of their websites.

Although it was first released in 2014, at the time its core function was to help bloggers and business owners know if their website could support certain functions. For example, whether a site could show flash software, display texts that were easily visible on small screen or screen-size compatible for scrolling.

The API has been developed for more sophisticated functions. The earlier tool was a simple way to manually test whether a particular URL is compatible with mobile phones. By introducing an API, Google is helping developers and webmasters incorporate the tool with automated software.

For instance, it could be used as a track specific pages automatically on a website and prevent accidental modifications that reduce a website’s responsiveness to mobile screens.

According to John Mueller, Google’s webmaster trends analyst, the API performs all tests and returns the same information, including the blocked URLs list, just like the manual test.

If you are not sure of your website’s mobile-friendliness, check out the page in the link above. You never know, a simple test can improve your mobile-credibility.

Article by ZK

ZK has written 939 articles.

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