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Google Could Penalize Non-Mobile Friendly Websites

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Last updated June 16th, 2013 by Boyana Peeva in Tech

mobile websitesSurfing the internet has become an experience that doesn't require a computer any longer.  With developments in cellular phone technology allowing cellular users to use their phones as miniature mobile computers, web content developers have been redesigning their content to provide phone surfers with a more optimized experience.

Many sites are still stuck in the cyber "stone age" when it comes to modifying their content to adapt to the increasing internet browsing done by cell phone users.  Content can only be viewed properly on a traditional computer monitor or laptop screen, making it extremely difficult for smartphone browsers to view and understand content and manipulate site options.  It is estimated that over 50% of content surfers will be using smartphones to search for information on the internet by the end of 2013.

In late 2011, the search engine giant Google released an announcement unveiling their new Googlebot-Mobile web crawler, designed to ferret out mobile specific content and adjust rankings based on how a website had geared their content toward smartphone users.  A few months later, infrequent rumors began surfacing questioning whether or not Google was going to start penalizing websites for not having mobile-friendly content.  Those rumors have now apparently become a reality.

On June 11, 2013, Google posted a blog on their Webmaster Central Blog titled "Changes in Rankings of Smartphone Search Results."  To give smartphone users an improved search experience and lessen the so-called pains they deal with, Google stated in this announcement that they will be implementing ranking changes to address sites that are not optimized for smartphone browsing.

Google's announcement also listed two of the most common errors that are committed by websites that have tried to change their content to provide accessibility for smartphone users.

  • Faulty redirects from desktop sites to mobile sites with incorrect URLs - Websites often have URLs that direct to "www" pages (desktop) and mobile-specific pages that direct to an "m" URL, but often these redirected addresses will actually take the user back to the site's main page rather than giving them the mobile page specific to the content they were viewing.  Internet surfers are used to having instant gratification when it comes to finding information, and if they encounter errors when trying to locate a specific site, they will quickly stop browsing that site altogether and find a site that is optimized accurately for viewing on a cellular phone.
  • Errors that are specific to smartphones only - Sometimes websites simply don't have content available for smartphone users and leave the page in desktop viewing format, or they have dead links where mobile URLs are located.  Google also recommended that mobile pages be tested on as many varieties of smartphones as possible, to ensure compatibility across widespread models and manufacturer types.

What impact will this have on websites and content developers?  Failure to sufficiently design mobile-friendly functionality into your website can cause you to experience a drop in your search engine ranking status.  Losing ranking placement can lessen your site's visibility to internet surfers and consumers seeking what you are providing.  If you are offering a service or product, this can likewise cause you to experience a drop in profitability from website marketing and internet-driven sales.

Optimizing your website for mobile surfing not only keeps your spot in the search engine rankings, but it also provides a benefit of giving mobile internet users added speed and accuracy with regard to completing their online searches.  Google's webmaster tools content also offers tips and suggestions on how to create mobile-optimized websites.

If they can find you faster and easier, they are not looking at your competitors.  Learn how you can improve your website's content and make your site more user and mobile friendly at Building Mobile-Optimized Websites.

Check out the WebSitePulse's mobile website too. Hope you find it easy-to-navigate and useful.

Boyana Peeva

Believes that the glass is rather half-full and that nothing is bigger than the little things. Enjoys writing, reading, and sharing content – information is power.

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