Google has stepped up its mobile-friendliness crusade, announcing that it will begin its first update to the mobile search algorithm in May.
This marks the first tweak since its roll-out just shy of a year ago – dubbed by the media as “mobilegeddon” – which saw pages shift up or down in search rankings for smartphones depending on how mobile-ready content was.
Google emphasised on its Webmaster blog that the new update won’t affect those who have already re-formatted their sites for mobile browsers. This latest tightening of the screw appears to be in efforts to nudge remaining laggards over the line.
The pages in question are those that still require users to “pinch and zoom” in order to read the content rather than being immediately readable, says Google, which results in a frustrating experience and high rates of site abandonment.
However, staying true to its product of delivering highly-relevant results to every query will continue to be the overriding factor of how a page will rank, regardless of how well the page is optimised for smaller screens.
It’s worth mentioning that this update will still have no bearing on search results served on tablets.
Mobile search overhaul
The Alphabet-owned search engine’s announcement comes following the introduction of its Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project last month, spurred on by its own research finding that mobile users abandon websites after just three seconds if the content hasn’t loaded.
These pages, which are tipped to load four times as fast as normal pages on average, will also gain a boost in rankings when relevant, according to Accelerated Mobile Pages Project’s blog.
Google says 94% of people with smartphones search for local information on their phones, while 77% of mobile searches occur at home or at work – or in other words, where there is likely to be the option of using a desktop.
These tweaks demonstrate Google’s concerted charge into improving experience for its mobile users – making up an ever-greater portion of its users – while at the same time keeping head-to-head with its (admittedly minimal) competition – the lightweight coding format of AMP is clearly comparable to Facebook’s Instant Articles.