Google: Mobile Friendly Web Pages or Else
Google rolled out updates last week that would discriminate against websites that are not mobile friendly, possibly causing a sharp decrease in traffic for businesses.
Searches will favor sites where text is readable without tapping or zooming, tap targets are spaced appropriately, and the page avoids unplayable content or horizontal scrolling. Sites that avoid Flash (not mobile friendly at all, we’ve all been there when a Flash site pops up and we scream in universal frustration) have larger, easy-to-read text and easy-to-use buttons will be given higher search rankings.
The update affects only search rankings on mobile devices and applies to individual pages, not entire websites, according to Google’s Webmaster Central Blog. The update will work on all sites in all languages globally.
Experts estimate that half of all Google searches are done with a mobile device. This is expected to grow as more and more smartphones come on the market.
eMarketer predicts there will be almost two billion smartphone users worldwide this year and 12 percent more than in 2016, so clearly the smartest companies are making their sites mobile-friendly. China has long ranked atop the smartphone use chart, with users almost tripling the United States, which is ranked second for smartphone use. India is projected to jump ahead of the US in smartphone use in 2016.
TechCrunch reports that less than half, or 44 percent, of Fortune 500 company websites were mobile friendly ahead of the rollout this week. Non-compliant sites include real estate giant Berkshire Hathaway, energy companies Phillips 66 and Valero, mortgage company Fannie Mae and healthcare company UnitedHealth Group.
Experts expect this to have a greater impact than Google’s last search ranking update in 2011, known as Panda. Google has reportedly seen a drop in their advertising revenue thanks to competition from the likes of Facebook.
Individual pages can be evaluated for “mobile-friendliness” using the Mobile-Friendly Test. If a site is not deemed mobile-friendly, Google will automatically reprocess pages once updates are made and re-rank them.
More than anything, it is a wakeup call for businesses to become mobile-friendly.