It’s been a long time coming, but quality mobile content and improved user experience may now be stronger factors in how Google ranks mobile search results. This speculation comes on the heels of recent additions and extensions to the way Google approaches search and advertising on mobile.
SearchEngineLand.com recently reported that Google is testing a new “non-mobile-friendly” icon in mobile search results. The icon, which depicts a mobile phone with a slash through it, symbolizes a search result that links to a page that’s not optimized for use with mobile devices. Google previously tested a mobile-friendly icon, similar to the current one, which highlighted more user-friendly sites instead.
In a statement to SearchEngineLand.com, Google shared its sentiments on the recent strong focus on mobile, saying it’s “making a big push to ensure the search results” reflect the idea that the mobile experience should be as seamless and user-focused as possible. “Because at Google we are aiming to provide a great user experience on any device, we want users to be able to enjoy the Web wherever they are,” a Google representative told the site. “Mobile-friendly websites provide a much better user experience for the mobile users.”
The spokesperson went on to cite statistics, specifically that 61 percent of users are unlikely to return to a site they had trouble accessing from their phone: “Mobile is a very important area; the mobile device penetration is over 50 percent in the USA.”
Google hasn’t officially confirmed the move, yet with major additions to its mobile ad units, the freedom of Googlebot to see exactly what users see, and the very recent purchase of mobile database start-up Firebase, it’s clear there is a strategic effort to improve the management and experience of mobile—both for end users and advertisers.
Commenting on the purchase of Firebase, a Google spokesperson told SearchEngineLand.com that the company’s expertise would allow Google to “build the best end-to-end platform for mobile application development” and make it “even easier to create great mobile and Web apps.” This goes beyond monitoring website quality; ensuring a quality experience as consumers engage with mobile content is something Google has shown to have a significant investment in.
The Content Standard previously reported that mobile now accounts for 25 percent of all global Web usage, and 42 percent of companies are using mobile for marketing purposes. It makes sense for Google to invest in the user experience on sites—better experiences encourage more activity, and more activity benefits not only Google, but also the marketers looking to use mobile for their marketing efforts.