Note: We’ve updated the information contained in this article here.
In a change that could only be expected with the turning tides of web users shifting from surfing on their PC or laptop to their phones, Google has begun an unprecedented move that may penalize sites that are “misconfigured” for smart phone users. Yes – Google may down-rank you for not following web-friendly protocol.
Two examples of common items that will hurt your Google ranking are provided on Google’s Webmaster Central blog: Faulty Redirects and Smartphone-Only Errors. Suffice it to say, these are easy fixes – no-brainers if you will – but a mobile-specific can take all of that headache away.
Why would Google down rank a site for these so-called unfriendly tasks? The reason behind this is that anything ruining the user’s online experience is less desirable for Google to display as a relevant search. It all goes back to a simple mantra – make your website beautiful and easy to use. Your visitors will come back more often and your traffic will grow.
To improve the search experience for smartphone users and address their pain points, we plan to roll out several ranking changes in the near future that address sites that are misconfigured for smartphone users.
– Yoshikiyo Kato, Software Engineer, on behalf of Google Mobile Search team
Not only is Google’s approach very smart to boost those sites with a good mobile UI, but as since Google is the largest search engine in the U.S. it only makes sense for them to push things a bit better for the rest of us. Only Google could impose something like this to spur mobile search traffic even more; afterall, who else could get our mobile world out of the dinosaur age quicker than Google?
Surely, if search rank is threatened by Google’s website criteria, you’ll likely see many to follow. This small step in the right direction for mobile searches is just the very beginning of what’s to come! In the next five years, if you don’t have a mobile website, consider yourself in the dinosaur age. With smartphone users checking their phones 150 times a day, sites without a mobile UI will be left in the dust.