Google tweaking ranking algorithm to punish sites with broken mobile versions
In a perfect world, we wouldn’t need to have websites cater specifically to mobile users – browsers on smartphones would be fast, robust, and render content pixel-for-pixel the same as you’d see on your desktop. For a lot of reasons, that’s not happening, and instead we have to prepare special smartphone-friendly versions of pages in order to optimize the mobile experience. Google’s noticed that not everyone’s managing to do a very good job at that, and announced plans this week to adjust its ranking for sites that really fail hard at making things easy for smartphone users.
Let’s be clear: Google doesn’t seem to be targeting sites that are full-on agnostic to mobile users, but instead those that attempt to present a special mobile version, but take some missteps along the way. One key example Google gives is that if a server detects you’re on a mobile device and attempts to refer you the mobile version of its site, it should still direct you to the equivalent page on the mobile edition. For instance, if you tapped a link to this page on your phone, Google would want to see Pocketnow forward you to the mobile version of this post, not to the mobile version of our main page, or some other generic mobile landing page.
Other things Google’s going to look for are sites spitting-out error messages when mobile users attempt to access them, and those including smartphone-unfriendly content (no surprise – Flash is used as the example) on mobile editions.