Google’s Mobile Search Algorithm

From 21st April 2015, Google’s search algorithm will officially now include mobile-friendly usability factors and mobile app indexing to help put customers first.

This is probably the biggest change in Google’s Search Algorithm since Penguin and Panda. Google are now favouring mobile-friendly websites in their mobile search to help improve user experience for their customers.

It also means that apps that index content through Google also get a bump in the search rankings — this really only affects apps on Andriod, but you can bet that iOS and Windows Apps will want to follow suit in due course.

Mobile User Experience

It seems obvious really — If your customers are searching for information on their smartphone it is only natural to expect that the top sites are best suited to the content and device. Which means they are going to be easy to use, easy to read and fast to load. It will certainly improve user experience.

The Rise of Mobile Search

Mobile search is growing at a huge rate; in 2014 the amount of mobile internet users surpassed those using a desktop. Forecasts also show that in 2017 tablet users will be double that of desktops!

How does it affect me?

If you’re not mobile friendly you’re really at a disadvantage and the proof is in the research.

Google’s Path to Purchase Report researched 950 US consumers across 9 different markets (Restaurants, Food & Cooking, Finance, Travel, Home & Garden, Apparel & Beauty, Automotive, Electronics, Health & Nutrition) in order to investigate purchase paths via mobile devices. 48% of these consumers started their research on mobile devices with the average research time on their Smartphones of 15+ hours a week. Immediacy and proximity was key, over half was expected to go onto buy within an hour, and 67% expected to buy within a 5 mile radius of their location.

Is my site mobile friendly, it looks ok on my smartphone?

Unfortunately you are either mobile friendly or not. There is no middle ground. The algorithm is based on a page-by-page real time basis and looks for things like link spacing (think chubby fingers, can they interact with links ok?), readability, image sizes, typography, load-times, etc.

It is easy to see if you’re mobile friendly or not. Simply open Google on your chosen device and search for your website. In the listings you should have in grey text the words ‘Mobile Friendly’. If your site doesn’t have this there are tools like Google Mobile Friendly Tool? to see what needs to be done, but the best thing for you to do in this case is have a chat with your web team as it could just be a quick fix to sort the page. Unfortunately it maybe time for a rethink about your web strategy.

Hints to make your site more mobile friendly

  • Avoid software that is not native to mobile devices like Flash
  • Make sure the spacing between links is enough so users can accurately interact with the website.
  • Typography needs to be legible without having to zoom into the browser. Probably around 12px-14px with plenty of line-height / leading.
  • Size content so users don’t have to horizontally scroll to view content.
  • Optimise your images and serve different images to viewports and devices for a more streamlined experience.

Mobile Search Resources and Tools for your business

Here is a bit of light reading if it interests you;

More Information

If you are a retailer or business that could benefit from improving your mobile strategy let’s have a chat. No matter the size of the business there are some real benefits of getting yourself more mobile-friendly so get in touch with me via email or through my website and let’s get together to see what we can do.


Originally published at www.creativitea.co.uk.

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