Not Mobile-Friendly? Google’s Outing You.
Google's search engine results pages (SERPs) are now not only revealing which sites are mobile-friendly, but which ones aren't, according to the Search Engine Roundtable.
On Tuesday, Barry Schwartz's article "Google's Text Version of Mobile-Friendly Web Pages in Search Results" shows significant progression during the past month in Google's SERP labeling. He found mobile icons appearing this month next to mobile-friendly results. On Monday, he saw crossed-out mobile icons next to some results that led to mobile-unfriendly sites. On Tuesday, Schwartz spotted text ("mobile-friendly") to the right of the appropriate URLs. [Editor's note: Searches on an Android device did not yield the same results as Schwartz found.]
As search experts note, Google representatives don't often explain the reasoning behind changes in the search engine algorithm. So it may be difficult to see whether mobile-friendly sites will move to the top of SERPs through Google's actions, or whether they may just move there because more users click on the links. (They do seem to be top results Schwartz is highlighting, as Wikipedia is a common top result, as well as Google's common choice for Answer Box results. Wikipedia is his first screen grab.)
Either way, the prediction seems to be coming true that marketers who still haven't optimized their sites for mobile will be missing out on even more traffic from search.
This may be due to some activities Google saw during the 2013 holidays, for instance. Even if consumers clicked on mobile-unfriendly links, they often didn't convert there. IBM reports "smartphone traffic accounted for 21.3 percent of all online shopping ... and 5 percent" of purchases, according to Target Marketing's Oct. 8 article "What's Different for Black Friday 2014?"
Several articles from Target Marketing detail how to optimize site for mobile and search:
1. Use Responsive Design, suggests Roey Franco of Sizmek on Feb. 26 in "5 Responsive Design and Cross-Screen Optimization Tips." He says to "support multiple input methods," in addition to mouse-enabled uses: Pinch to zoom, swipe to change a page and tap and hold to copy, define text, etc.