Google announced a ranking algorithm change that gives mobile-friendly web sites an advantage in search results when users search from a mobile device. They talked about this change over a year ago, and are now putting it into place. The key aspect of is that the advantage is only apparent when searches are performed through a mobile device.
The details can be found in the article Helping users find mobile-friendly pages.
There are three parts to the plan.
The first is a new “Mobile-friendly” label that will show up in search results next to web sites GoogleBot deems to be fully compatible with mobile devices.
The second is an analysis performed on web sites to determine if they do indeed fit the criteria Google has established.
Here is the most important section of the article. It spells out the specific criteria GoogleBot is using to determine if a web site passes the test.
Let’s break down each of these eligibility rules to show how a responsive design web site meets all the criteria.
- Avoids software that is not common on mobile devices, like Flash. I mentioned a while ago in my Trash The Flash article that Flash animations have never been good for search results. They are even less appealing with smart phones because many lack the ability to display Flash animations and Flash video. Smart phones can display image sliders and video, provided those features are configured properly, but Flash has always been problematic for spiders–and for smart phones.
- Uses text that is readable without zooming. Responsive design websites typically use larger text fonts in the 16 pixel to 18 pixel range because it is easier to read. It is especially easier to read with a fluid design web site, which is what responsive design is all about. The fluid design no longer crams a full web page into a small viewing device. It rearranges the page and maintains font size to maintain easy readability without zooming. Keep in mind that as your customers age, they will no longer have the eagle-eyes of a teenager.
- Sizes content to the screen so users don’t have to scroll horizontally or zoom. Rather than reducing the size of a web page and cramming it into a small screen, a fluid design allows the page elements to flow into a a single column when viewed using devices with small viewing areas. The single column is an important feature, because a user no longer has to zoom the page out to read the text. With a properly designed responsive web site, there should never be a reason to scroll horizontally or use a zoom feature. The responsive design code detects the width of a user’s viewing screen and automatically adjusts the page to make it easy to read. This cannot be done effectively with a multi-column design.
- Places links far enough apart so that the correct one can be easily tapped. Tiny navigational menus are no longer an option, especially when a page is viewed with a smart phone. Navigational menus need to be larger and the elements spaced to make it easy for a user’s finger to make selections.
The third part is a tool that tests a web page to see if it is mobile friendly based on the new criteria. You can find this tool here: Mobile Friendly test.
If your web site is not compatible with mobile devices, contact Top Rank Solutions. We can fix the problem with a responsive design, mobile-friendly WordPress web site.