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24/11/2014 | Webreality

Google now favouring "mobile friendly" websites with labelling

Websites that do not use mobile-friendly design technology are now likely to see reduced traffic from users searching on mobile devices, after Google introduced a new flag in its search results to steer people towards websites that are easiest to use on mobile.

We've known for some time that Google's search algorithm is favouring websites that use "responsive design" technology when calculating the best results for searches performed on mobile devices.

That's the programmatic approach - giving mobile-friendly websites the best chance of being seen for a given search term.

Google's new labelling technology is an appeal to the user's human discretion. So, for a given set of search results, where Google can see that a website has been designed and built to give a great mobile user experience, it will label that website as "Mobile friendly" when the search is done on a mobile device. Here's an example, using a search on "Jersey wine merchants" and showing in the top non-paid position:

Dunells mobile search

You can see the prominent "Mobile-friendly" text label ringed in red (by us).

Google's idea? That you'll be more likely to click on this website's listing than others which don't have the "Mobile-friendly" text label.

Google is reportedly using a number of factors that it can detect in the website's code to determine whether it is "Mobile friendly." Its blog post on this subject gives the following list of the website characteristics that it's looking for:

  • Avoids software that is not common on mobile devices, like Flash
  • Uses text that is readable without zooming
  • Sizes content to the screen so users don't have to scroll horizontally or zoom
  • Places links far enough apart so that the correct one can be easily tapped

It also helpfully provides an online "Mobile-friendly test" that you can use to see whether your website will qualify for the "Mobile-friendly" label. 

Go ahead and test your website. If you have any concerns or questions about the results, we'll be pleased to advise on your options.