Google announce ‘significant’ impact of mobile ranking signals

Yesterday, Google announced via the Webmaster Central blog that, from 21st April 2015, mobile ranking signals will have a ‘significant’ impact on search results. These ranking signals will only affect mobile searches and will be used across all languages.

For most of us in the search marketing industry, this announcement shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Over the last six months the hints have been coming thick and fast from Google. Let’s refresh our minds as to what they’ve been up to:

Mobile Usability Reports arrive in Webmaster Tools

In October 2014, Google introduced its newest feature in WMT; Mobile Usability Reports, which highlighted the following issues which Google found to be impacting mobile users:

  • Tiny fonts
  • fixed width and wrongly-sized viewports
  • buttons being too close together

At this time, John Mueller, Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst said Google “strongly recommend[s] you take a look at these issues in Webmaster Tools.”

Search Result Annotations

 

September 2014
October 2014
October 2014

Google has tested a range of icons and annotations to mobile search results over the course of the last six months.

Fix Mobile Usability Issue Messages

Google began sending out these messages en masse in mid January and have continued to do so over the last five weeks. They conclude with the threatening message ‘these pages will…be displayed and ranked appropriately for smartphone users’.

Importantly, Google also chose to send these messages via email to Webmasters. This was definitely a sign that they should be taken seriously and that something was to come.

 

February 2015

Neeraj Kayastha spotted that Google was trialing ‘slow’ labels in mobile search results this week. Is this the sign of things to come, a will coloured labels become a permanent feature in mobile search results?

Slow

Who should be worried?

  • Websites with a decent percentage of mobile traffic, who have received mobile usability issue messages in Webmaster Tools. These sites will probably already be struggling with a low conversion rate from mobile traffic due to poor user experience.
  • Sites that have completely ignored responsive design

What to do now

Those who have received messages in Webmaster Tools, who have a significant amount of mobile traffic, should take action as soon as possible. For some, a few styling changes for users with small screen size will suffice – subtle changes to font size and spacing may fix issues for you.

You should also check out Google Developer’s Guide to Make It Responsive

To see the original post on Webmaster Central, click here.

Resources

Google’s guide to Mobile-Friendly Websites

Google’s Mobile Friendly URL Test

 

Image via Serge Kij

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