Google is changing its search algorithms to favour ‘mobile friendliness’. In a move that will affect searches from smartphones only, sites which are optimized for the smaller screen will see their Google rankings rise, while sites which are not mobile friendly will be downgraded.
Mark Bergen at Re/code reports that although some sites are likely to be caught out by the changes, Google has been pro-active in its approach to publishers. >‘This time around, Google gave advance warning, notifying developers in February. They even provided a site to test if a URL is “mobile-friendly.” (This one is.) It’s a marked difference from prior alterations to the algorithm, said mobile industry insiders’.
Despite the prior notice, even some big names might be adversely affected. The Guardian ran a test on the Mail Online and found it to be not mobile friendly. >‘That this has been announced suggests Google expects the change to cause a big impact, potentially affecting traffic and revenue for a number of sites that heavily rely on search results. Mail Online, the world’s largest English-language news site, for instance has never introduced a mobile-friendly front page and as a consequence will likely suffer’.
Techcrunch’s Sarah Perez thinks this that this will be good for both smartphone users and site owners, as mobile traffic continues to rise. It is also a very necessary move for Google which stands to lose out to the native app market if it’s search engines aren’t optimized for mobile use. >‘That rapid shift to mobile has impacted all businesses, Google included. The company’s bottom line is affected by how many mobile users turn to its search engine to explore the web, allowing it to serve ads against searchers’ intent. But on mobile, users have often found better ways of interacting with the content and online properties they frequent – by way of native mobile applications built especially with a mobile device’s small form factor in mind and able to take advantage of mobile OS features like push notifications, for example, to retain users’ engagement’.
And finally… Staying on the subject of ‘being found by Google’, Margaret Sullivan of the New York Times has written about the way in which headlines are written (and often rewritten), to be more ‘findable’ and ‘shareable’; >‘On the more general question of how headline writing is changing, Mr. LaForge said that Times editors became frustrated a few years ago when search engines — particularly Google — were not serving up Times journalism prominently because however clever the headlines may have been, a lot of them lacked keywords. The paper has made a strong effort to remedy that, and it’s working, he said’.