Google has stepped up its plan to reward mobile-optimised sites by sending usability warnings to sites offering a poor mobile experience.
The messages, which are being sent by email and in Webmaster Tools, have fuelled rumours that a mobile algorithm could be imminent, with sites that put the effort into creating a better mobile experience rewarded with a search visibility boost.
Google alerted webmasters to this possibility many times last year, as it began to flag sites that were not mobile-friendly or used particular features (e.g. Flash) that would provide a poor mobile experience.
While the search engine seemed initially to focus on penalising mobile-unfriendly sites, towards the end of 2014 it began to provide added incentive for people to make their sites better for mobile.
Back in November, Google announced a series of improvements sites could make in order to be eligible for a new ‘mobile-friendly’ label. These included ensuring content was formatted to fit a mobile screen, allowing users to read text without needing to zoom and presenting links in such a way that they could be opened easily with one tap.
In the same blog, Google mentioned that it was looking into using a site’s mobile friendliness as a potential ranking factor, and this appears to have moved a step closer with this week’s announcement.
Google’s mobile dominance here to stay
Google enjoyed a 94.58 per cent share of the UK’s mobile search market last year, so it is likely that ignoring this latest request could significantly decrease a company’s chances of being found via mobile devices.
Indeed, last year Google put the brakes on a UK mobile search trend that had seen Yahoo, and to a lesser extent Bing, make small gains at Google’s expense each year since 2010. Google’s control of this market is stronger than ever, so paying attention to their requirements could prove pivotal.
Our design and development team have helped many businesses optimise their site for mobile users, and can help you create an experience that ticks all the boxes for both search engines and users.