Google’s recent updates in ranking policy encourages websites to be more “mobile-friendly.”
Technology site Ars Technica reports that Google released its latest string of updates to web developers on April 21st. The third update of its kind, the new guidelines encourage web developers to build websites more accessible to mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.
The first update stipulated that Google would merely “call out” sites that used Flash, and would reward mobile-friendly sites by including a label on mobile device search results indicating that the site was optimized for mobile.
Now, Google will begin to take mobile design into consideration when ranking websites on its search results. The more mobile-friendly a site is, the higher ranking it will receive. To clarify what it wants, Google released a statement regarding last week’s update.
“The mobile-friendly update will boost the rankings of mobile-friendly pages…in mobile search results worldwide,” the statement reads. “(Conversely, pages designed for only large screens may see a significant decrease in rankings in mobile search results.)”
In order to receive favorable rankings, web developers must avoid any content requiring Adobe Flash Player. Instead, Google suggests using the more modern iFrame embed method, which is the default embed method used by most video hosting sites today.
Google also recommends that websites should be readable without having to zoom in and that they are scaled to fit mobile screens. In addition, Google wants developers to include links with large spaces in between to make them more “clickable” on smartphones and tablets.
To aid web developers with these new guidelines, Google released a mobile-friendly test page that evaluates how mobile-friendly a webpage is.
Though the search engine company stresses mobile access, it was quick to point out that mobile-friendliness is just one of several criteria factors it uses to rank webpages.
“If a page with high quality content is not mobile-friendly, it could still rank high if it has great content for the query,” Google’s statement said.
The good news for developers resistant to the changes is that the rankings will only be affected on mobile search results. Computer searches and rankings will remain the same. Still, given the prominence of mobile search engine use, it would be wise for developers to adapt to the new guidelines.
Search engines account for the beginnings of 93% of all Internet sessions. Moreover, websites that do not work for mobile can lose up to 35% of their traffic.