Home – New Forums Tech talk Google News: G is already implementing a separate ranking algo for mobile devices Reply To: Google News: G is already implementing a separate ranking algo for mobile devices

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bb1, post: 211082 wrote:
So I guess when a website comes up on the google bot with the following results it wont rank very well on a mobile.

Not mobile-friendly
Page appears not mobile-friendly

✕ Text too small to read

✕ Links too close together

✕ Mobile viewport not set

✕ Content wider than screen
Hi Bert,
Not quite correct…

The elements you outline are all part of the single “mobile-friendly” ranking parameter that will be one of hundreds that G. will use to assess search rankings on mobile phones.

The bit we don’t know is what impact this single factor will have on ranking results vs all the other smartphone algo changes.

Google staff in the video referenced above say that they don’t expect a mobile-friendly non-brand site to out rank a non-mobile brand site for a brand search.

Eg: If someone searches for “(your company name) phone” on their smartphone and you don’t have a mobile-friendly site, the expectation is that your page should still out rank a mobile-friendly site that qualifies for the search results list.

Ranking will be dependent on three important issues:

1. How many of the search phrase competitors are mobile-friendly?

2. What are the other ranking parameters that will be different in the smartphone algo?

3. What is the level of competition for the specific search phrase?

I can’t find any recent figures on how many websites currently pass the mobile-friendly test. I read one estimate that was over a year old that claimed only 10% of websites were mobile enabled. I still see very few mobile web pages in search results. I suspect the numbers are still a small minority.

We know that G already uses location of the searcher and the website in its ranking algo. What if G elevates the importance of this “signal” in the smartphone algo 1,000 times? In theory, it could far out-weigh the importance of the simple “mobile-friendly” ranking boost.

Then there is “timeliness” which G says will be a critical parameter. A lot of mobile phone searches seem to be for time sensitive info like jobs, classifieds, houses, specials, prices, deals, products in stock. Hypothetically, G could also make information freshness 1,000 times more important in its mobile phone ranking algo than its desktop algo.

In theory, either of these two ranking parameters could blow the on/off ranking attributes of “mobile-friendliness” out of the mobile ranking water.

The invisible elephant in the room is page load speed. All the surveys say that load speed is by far the most important factor for mobile phone users. The initial mobile-friendly tool does not address this mission critical measure of mobile-friendliness. G has said that it is experimenting with this attribute but that it will continue to use the load speed of the desktop version of the site in its mobile phone ranking algo.

All of this suggests to me that we are in for years of major changes around how G assesses and ranks web pages on mobile phones.

The bottom line to me…

  • Yes, we will need to develop a mobile friendly website.
  • The only debate in my mind should be about when do we do it and how much should we design around load speed?

Do we rush in now when we only know about one infrequently used mobile ranking parameter or do we hold for a few more weeks until we have better info about some of the other factors that may have a much larger impact on mobile phone search results?

To my mind, it does not matter where a page ranks in the search results. If it takes too long to load on a mobile phone, people won’t wait for it. (“40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load.” How Loading Time Affects Your Bottom Line) The speed issue could have a dramatic impact on future mobile website design, structure, functionality and content.