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Thread: Google to use mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal

  1. #1
    Marketing Mentor Mikl is a Premium Member
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    Google to use mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal

    I see that Google have announced that, from 21st April, they "will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal". In other words, if you are doing a Google search from a mobile device, the results will tend to favour sites that are themselves mobile-friendly. (Source)

    I am surprised that this hasn't always been the case. Given that Google has been pushing the case for mobile-friendly design for several years now, you would think they would know that if you are using a tablet or phone for your search, you would want the search to find sites that work well on a phone or a tablet.

    That apart, this is good news for me, having recently put a bit of effort into ensuring that all of my sites are mobile-friendly. It will be interesting to see what effect, if any, there is in my rankings.

    By the way, I dislike the term "mobile-friendly". What matters is whether the site is "friendly" to various screen sizes and other physical factors. Whether the device is "mobile", (that is, easily portable) is irrelevant.

    Mike

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    Makes sense to return mobile friendly sites in mobile search results.

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    Top Contributor crabfoot is a Premium Member
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    G said, quite some time ago, that they regarded mobile-friendly sites as a good thing. This announcement appears to be a formal statement that such sites will get extra brownie points in the rankings.



    It could probably be expressed as "G has finally figured out how the spiders can detect that sites are re-sizeable", but that does not make for a good press release.

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    I'm not a techie, so please forgive me if I've misunderstood. I had thought that "responsive" was more important than "mobile friendly" these days anyway. A few years ago, we did consider building mobile friendly sites but that's been overtaken by using responsive template designs. (Definitely not my area of expertise!) Perhaps someone can explain in simple terms?
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    Top Contributor crabfoot is a Premium Member
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    The site design is impelled by the browser's setting to re-shape itself, depending on pixel resolution and the actual screen size.
    For CSS/HTML sites, there are four common user friendly sizes that get a lot of use. For php sites using Wordpress, there are other cunning options within the templates, and I can't get my head around some of them.
    When you have a wee wee screen on your device, the site responds by either displaying very small text, or going narrow and putting the text into a longer column, depending on what the client device can accommodate.

    There are also

    touch controls which are mostly superseded by the operating system encompassing their operations.



    Do what you usually do and buy a template ...

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    My understanding of this is that a Responsive site is typically the same website that adapts for the smaller screen sizes, and a Mobile Friendly site returns different results based on which device is being used to browse.

    A mobile friendly site considers bandwidth, navigation, graphics sizing, mobile optimized CSS, and doesn't have mobile-incompatible elements. G has a very detailed developer section devoted to Mobile Friendly Websites.

    Testing that I read last year was suggesting that the G search that was done on a mobile device returned (primarily) dedicated mobile sites. G now has a separate spider (algorithm) that is mobile specific. I haven't seen any results testing of this new bot yet. A consideration when following the above developer guide: what G says it wants and what actually has ranking benefits can sometimes be (significantly) different

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  10. #7
    Marketing Mentor Mikl is a Premium Member
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    I had thought that "responsive" was more important than "mobile friendly" these days
    It is.

    The way I would explain it is that "mobile friendly" is a special case of "responsive".

    A responsive site is one that responds (i.e adapts itself) to the physical requirements of the browser. Mainly, that means screen size but might also include other factors. For example, if the site normally displays information in multiple columns across the width of the screen, it might respond to a narrow screen by re-arranging the information such that one column is below another.

    A mobile-friendly site would do that as well, as mobile devices have narrow screens. But a responsive site might also respond to an unusually wide screen by horizontally centring the information within the screen. A mobile-friendly site would have no reason to do that.

    Put another way, all responsive sites are mobile-friendly, but all mobile-friendly sites are not responsive. (You could probably nit-pick that statement, but let it go for now.)

    we did consider building mobile friendly sites but that's been overtaken by using responsive template designs.
    Templates aren't the issue. You can create mobile-friendly sites and responsive sites with or without templates.

    For CSS/HTML sites, there are four common user friendly sizes that get a lot of use. For php sites using Wordpress, there are other cunning options within the templates
    All sites are CSS/HTML (or, rarely, HTML without CSS). PHP and Wordpress are tools for managing content and, ultimately, generating HTML. No doubt there are Wordpress templates designed specifically for responsive sites. And it's perfectly possible to use PHP (and other server-side tools) to generate responsive HTML. But that's not the defining characteristic. A responsive site can be produced with Wordpress, or it could be coded by hand.

    My understanding of this is that a Responsive site is typically the same website that adapts for the smaller screen sizes, and a Mobile Friendly site returns different results based on which device is being used to browse.
    Yes, that's right - or, at least, it used to be. Originally, it you wanted to create a mobile-friendly site, you would interrogate the user agent, and compare it with a list of known mobile operating systems and browsers. If it was one that you knew to be mobile, you would present the user with a different version of the site - one that was designed specifically for small screens. (Often, you could recognise these because they had m. in the URL.)

    You no longer do that. Instead you use media queries. This is a feature built into CSS that says, essentially: if the screen width less than x, apply these styles; if it is between x and y, apply these styles; if it is greater than y, ....; and so on.

    To summarise: Mobile-friendly means that the site works well on a mobile device, which specifically means a small screen. Responsive means that the site works well on any device with any size screen.

    Final point: It's not just about screen size. A responsive site will also respond to screen vs print vs screen reader, and similar factors.

    Mike

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    Are there any Wordpress plugins that can be used if your theme is not mobile friendly or responsive?

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    Administrator Clinton is a Premium Member
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    I don't believe a plugin could do it. The site's core design needs to allow for the fluidity required... so if it's a WP site you're probably going to want to start with a mobile friendly theme. If a plugin exists it's going to detect a mobile device and serve a different template / theme that you've pre-configured for mobile devices.

    That's my understanding anyway. I defer to Mikl's expertise.

  14. #10
    Marketing Mentor Mikl is a Premium Member
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    Clinton, that would be my understanding as well.

    Mike

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