An announcement by Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Land has added credence to the widely held belief in the search engine optimisation world that Google is increasingly taking the experience of mobile users into account, more favourably ranking websites which are geared towards a responsive browsing experience.
It was established in May of this year that Google’s spiders are more capable than ever before, now able to see what users see rather than just weighing up background code. Now, it’s being reported that webmasters at the Search Marketing Expo East were told once more that they need to place greater emphasis on user experience – including smartphone and tablet experience.
Schwartz says that he contacted Google for clarification after the expo and was told the following:
“Because at Google we are aiming to provide a great user experience on any device, we’re making a big push to ensure the search results we deliver reflect this principle. We want users to be able to enjoy the web wherever they are.”
Many in the industry have taken this statement as confirmation that the user experience of those on mobiles may become a key ranking factor in the very near future.
This isn’t entirely new. It’s already well known in the industry that if your website returns errors for those using mobiles to access it that Google will penalise you. The statement however may hint at an even bigger and more exciting shift towards encompassing the experience of smartphone users.
“With many things Google has hinted at in the past, such as HTTPS, page speed, ad-heavy pages, quality content and so on, these warnings have come months before, and Google has released new algorithms that incorporate them into the ranking algorithm,” said Schwartz, suggesting that while changes are likely on the horizon if your website provides a poor mobile experience in the here and now Google are likely to look the other way for the time being.
Ultimately, algorithms encompassing the mobile experience are inevitable. Mobile-based browsing is already rapidly closing on desktop surfing and this is just another added reason for embracing a responsive website design, assuming you haven’t already.
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