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Google's preferential treatment for 'mobile-friendly'sites
25
Apr '15
Google has decided to prioritise mobile-friendly websites when people use the search engine on smartphones or tablet computers from this week. The move is part of Google’s changes to its mobile search algorithm, which the tech giant announced back in February to give websites time to redesign, according to media reports.

The latest change is not meant to discriminate against rivals, but to demote sites in Google’s mobile-search results that are not deemed “mobile-friendly”. That means, for instance, those that have text too small to read on a smartphone screen, or fiddly links too difficult to open with the tap of a finger, will be discriminated against. “As more people use mobile devices to access the internet, our algorithms have to adapt to these usage patterns,” Google wrote in a blog post in February.

As a result of the changes, businesses with desktop-only websites may find themselves plummeting in Google's search rankings. This isn’t only an issue for smaller businesses, according to Google’s ‘Mobile-Friendly’ tool a number of big names including Versace has a site that Google has classified as not being mobile-friendly, for having text too small to read and links to close together.

This change is expected to have a significant impact on businesses that have not yet adopted a mobile-friendly strategy for their sites, and they could lose out on potential web traffic. However, sites will only see a drop in search visibility for consumers using their smartphone, and not desktops, but Google estimates half of all searches are conducted from mobile devices, through mobile browsers and its own search apps.

Google's move to prioritize mobile friendly websites is no surprise given that 90 per cent of Internet users own a cell phone and 94 per cent of people use a mobile phone to search local information, according to one report. Another 67 per cent of shoppers say they look up an item online then purchase it in the store and over 75 per cent of mobile device looked for a product online. Fifty per cent of smart phone users are more likely to visit the local store or business within a day of searching for the place on their device compared to 34 per cent of desktop computer searches.

Google regularly updates its algorithms, but big revisions are rare. In 2012, for instance, the firm made changes aimed to weed out misleading websites. (SH)

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India

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