There is news this month that Google will be moving to make mobile device searches more important than desktop searches.
Google is calling it “Mobile First”.
Google has been reporting for some time that more searches are being done on mobile devices than desktop computers.
The actual quote from the 6th November 2016;
“Today, most people are searching on Google using a mobile device. However, our ranking systems still typically look at the desktop version of a page’s content to evaluate its relevance to the user. This can cause issues when the mobile page has less content than the desktop page because our algorithms are not evaluating the actual page that is seen by a mobile searcher.
To make our results more useful, we’ve begun experiments to make our index mobile-first. Although our search index will continue to be a single index of websites and apps, our algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site, to understand structured data, and to show snippets from those pages in our results.
Of course, while our index will be built from mobile documents, we’re going to continue to build a great search experience for all users, whether they come from mobile or desktop devices.”
Doantam Phan, Product Manager. Google.
So what should you do?
Most mobile websites do not have either the level of content or the ease of navigation that a desktop allows. Especially ecommerce websites, and this is where the problem will really hit, in my opinion.
If your website has been made to be “responsive” i.e. to change its layout when presented on a small screen, then you need to ensure that it is very, very easy to use.
We all know how annoying it is to have to scroll down and down to get to the actual page contents, then we can easily get lost using a small screen.
Most website owners have ensured that their website will display OK, but now they need to ensure that their developers and designers have really understood the mobile device market and test for usability in that area.
We don’t know when the main impact of this change will happen. But it is on it’s way. You have been warned.
My concerns about the reasoning for the change
I know why Google is making this change, but I feel it’s a bit sad that they are reacting to folks who perhaps do not use the Internet for business. For example, “Facebookers”, “snap chatterers” and the younger generations generally.
I think that statistics on what is being used to access search is skewed by those types of users’ activity levels.
For example, the young can spend hours a day on their phones as an escape route from their tedious world, but businesses use search to find all important products and services that their business actually needs.
It seems odd that whilst Google is pushing for mobile to be more important in search, it is the desktop using businesses who are buying their advertising. Be careful Google!