Think Google doesn’t care if your website is “mobile-friendly” or not? Think again. Checking up on some metadata changes I had made a few days ago, I noticed that Google is clearly indicating whether a website was built for mobile in their mobile search results pages. In both Safari and Chrome on the iPhone the text is a dark gray color so it’s fairly noticeable. I highlighted the indication in red below just in case you’ve missed it.
I did a little digging and apparently in the last recent months Google has been experimenting with showing an icon of a mobile device with a slash through it to indicate that a site was not mobile-friendly. Now they are now showing which ones are optimized for mobile, which makes more sense since most sites are not.
I’m a little surprised that Google would dedicate 15 characters in an already tight UI space, but I do enjoy and appreciate the feature. I’m using older phone and my connection is pretty slow, so having some sense of how fast a site will load and how readable it will be is definitely a factor when choosing which result I’ll pick.
We already know that Google rewards websites that load fast because they provide a better user experience, and mobile is no different. I’ve mentioned in a previous post that mobile browsing is quickly surpassing desktop browsing based on most of the Web analytics that I look at.
And speaking of search results on mobile devices, Google also shows different results depending on if you are on a mobile or on desktop, so one can assume that if your site provides a better user experience by being optimized for a small screen, you may rank higher than a competitor that does not. The fact that Google has added mobile usability reporting to it’s Webmaster Tools is yet another indication that mobile optimization will soon become a standard ranking signal…I assume it already is. They’ve also created a Webmaster’s Mobile Guide and Mobile-Friendly Testing Tool to help you get started.
UPDATE: As if on queue, I received an email from Webmaster Tools today indicating that a website I own was not mobile friendly and steps that I need to take to correct the errors (screenshot below).