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Google Makes Major “Mobile-friendly” Change to Search Algorithms

googleSearchTopImageMost people know that Google uses a complex system to determine which results to show from a search query. What some people may not know is that this algorithm gets updated periodically.

In mid-April, Google implemented a major change, one that was focused on the mobile-readiness of websites.

While this may seem to be a small technicality, in fact it can have huge impact on anyone that depends on customers finding them through Google.

Here are the key points of the change that went into effect on April 21st, 2015.

  • What is the change?
    Google now rates each page to see if it is “mobile friendly”. This basically means is the page designed to display well on a mobile device.

    If the page is deemed to be mobile friendly, then it will be more likely to listed when someone does a search from a mobile device.

  • Where do consumers see this?
    In mobile search results, there will now be a small label if the page is mobile friendly. (see example below)
  • Does it apply to an entire site?
    No, it applies page by page. This means that if some pages in a site are mobile friendly, they can benefit from this boost, while other “non-friendly” pages will not.
  • As a webmaster, how do I check my site?
    Google has provided a tool to check mobile friendliness, it is here. (see example below)
  • Where can I get more information?
    The Google FAQ is located here.

google-mobile-friendly2This change is different from many Google algorithm updates, in that it is actively encouraging good business strategy. Google’s changes often are implemented primarily to limit – or some would say punish – certain web practices that Google wants to discourage. For example, one such discouraged practice was hiding text on a page by making it the same color as the background.

However in this case, Google is actually encouraging companies to think about their mobile strategy, and to put the resources into making their website “mobile friendly”.

google-mobile-friendly1As a large and growing proportion of web traffic, especially web commerce traffic, is coming from mobile devices, this is actually a very good thing for most companies.

As Matthew Tulett, one of the organizers of UnGagged London, said, “I would urge businesses large and small to use the mobile friendly update to take stock and asses their mobile strategy… rather than a headache, this particular algorithm change should be seen as helping businesses focus on ways to achieve growth in areas that, until now, might otherwise have been ignored.”

What is a Google Algorithm?
(from Google website)

You want the answer, not trillions of webpages. Algorithms are computer programs that look for clues to give you back exactly what you want.

For a typical query, there are thousands, if not millions, of webpages with helpful information. Algorithms are the computer processes and formulas that take your questions and turn them into answers.

Today Google’s algorithms rely on more than 200 unique signals or “clues” that make it possible to guess what you might really be looking for. These signals include things like the terms on websites, the freshness of content, your region and PageRank.
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