Scramble to deal with new Google search ranking

THE ONLINE world is scrambling to deal with Google’s new mobile search algorithm that comes into force today, with those that do not meet the new criteria set to drop down the search engine’s result rankings.

Google is updating its search algorithm so that it will penalise websites that are not mobile optimised. Picture: PA
Google is updating its search algorithm so that it will penalise websites that are not mobile optimised. Picture: PA

A new search algorithm from Google is coming into place that penalises websites that are not “responsive” to mobile devices; optimising their content for the smaller screen. Google is analysing all aspects of a website; including text size and how close together it is and lowering the ranking of those that do not adjust for mobile. The technology giant says it has done this to adapt to the increasing number of people using mobile devices in order to search online.

The new criteria, according to web experts, could have a huge impact on any firm that does not comply.

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Kevin Dallas, the chief product officer at payment processing firm Worldpay eCommerce said businesses who don’t act stand to lose their customers.

“This move by Google should send a message to companies whose websites are poorly configured for smartphone users that optimising for mobile is no longer a matter of choice,” he said.

“With the number of smartphone users only set to grow, businesses simply can’t afford to become invisible to mobile consumers. Few would argue that Google’s search rankings can make or break a business, and as of today organisations that don’t deliver a decent end-to-end mobile experience risk learning this the hard way.”

Mr Dallas added that e-commerce businesses should pay particular attention to the changes.

“Online retailers in particular will need to step up their game,” he said.

“Mobile shoppers often look for the best deals via online search, and with the global market for m-commerce expected to reach £626 billion by 2018 falling to page two in the rankings could mean a huge opportunity lost for these companies.”

Google has created an analysis tool for websites to test whether or not they are “mobile-friendly”, with the tool creating a check-list of faults if it does not meet the criteria.

Despite first being announced over a month ago, as recently as Monday some major websites in the UK were still not fully meeting Google’s criteria. Mobile marketing firm Somo, who compiled a report on the changes, said this is because while many had a separate app or mobile site, and therefore believed they were up to code, their main website did not automatically redirect to them when visited on mobile. To Google, this constitutes a fail. The BBC was one such example of this, but has since added the redirect feature to pass the Google test.