Google to start labelling mobile-friendly sites

Google has announced that it will add the label 'mobile-friendly' to sites that are easily navigable on smartphones, in an effort to further improve the search experience for mobile users.

The search giant, which currently has an overwhelming 93.62 per cent share of the UK mobile search market, said on its Webmaster Central blog that it wants to point smartphone users towards websites that will load quickly and be easily readable.

The 'mobile-friendly' label will be placed on search engine results pages (SERPs), appearing just before eligible websites' meta descriptions. The label will show in grey text while meta descriptions will remain black.

The Webmaster Central post explained that a page will qualify for 'mobile-friendly' status if:

  • It does not use software that is uncommon for mobile devices (i.e. Flash)
  • Its text can be read without the user having to zoom in
  • Its content is sized to the screen (i.e. users will not have to scroll horizontally or zoom in to see everything on the page)
  • Its links are spaced far enough apart so that the user can easily click on the one they mean to

Google suggests mobile-friendliness may be a future rankings-booster

The blog went on to recommend tools and pages that webmasters can use to monitor and improve the mobile-friendliness of their sites, such as the 'Webmasters Mobile Guide' and Google's 'Mobile usability report'.

Towards the end of the post, Google stated: "We see these labels as a first step in helping mobile users to have a better mobile web experience. We are also experimenting with using the mobile-friendly criteria as a ranking signal."

Since last June, Google has punished sites that perform poorly on mobile devices by ranking them lower down on mobile SERPs.