Google Planning to Roll Out Ranking Changes for Smartphones!

Jun 12, 2013 | 1,324 views | by Navneet Kaushal
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There has been a significant rise in the number of smartphone users who browse the web to search for relevant data. And to provide a rich web experience, Google often comes up with recommendations and configuration suggestions for site owners.

Google has announced that it is planning to roll out several ranking changes in the near future, which will be affecting the sites misconfigured for smartphone users. If your website is not serving the smartphone users in the right way, better get it fixed before it loses the ranking in mobile search in future.

Pierre Far and Yoshikiyo Kato from Google have indicated about the future changes in the blog post. They said, “To improve the search experience for smartphone users and address their pain points, we plan to roll out several ranking changes in the near future that address sites that are misconfigured for smartphone users”.

By avoiding some common configuration mistakes and following what Google says, webmasters can make it easier for smartphone users to engage fully with the site and find the information faster. Google in the latest Webmaster Central blog has also talked about two such common mistakes and how to fix them.

Faulty Redirects

Some websites prefer to have separate URLs for desktop and smartphone users. A faulty redirect is when the smartphone user is redirected to an irrelevant page on the website optimized for smartphone. For example, when all the pages on the desktop site are redirecting the phone user to the homepage of the website optimized for smartphones.

Google mobile Google Planning to Roll Out Ranking Changes for Smartphones!

As a result, the user might stop browsing the website and switch to some other site. Even if the user continues to browse the site, it will affect the work efficiency, specifically if the user is on a slow network.

However, avoiding irrelevant redirects is easy. All you have to do is redirect the smartphone user from the desktop page to an equally optimized smartphone page. In case, there's no content present in the smartphone friendly format, it is better to show the desktop content instead of directing to an irrelevant page.

For more tips about redirects, you should refer to Google's recommendations for having separate URLs for smartphone and desktop users.

Smartphone Specific Errors

Some websites show the content to desktop users for a specific URL but show an error page on smartphones. Some of the scenarios where smartphone-only errors are visible include:

  • The smartphone friendly page should not be an error page. In case the content is unavailable in smartphone-friendly format, you should serve the desktop page. It is better to show the content that the user is searching for instead of showing the error.
  • If the user is visiting a desktop page from the mobile device but there's an equivalent smartphone friendly page at different URL, redirect the user to that URL instead of showing a soft 404 page or serving 404.
  • Many videos play well on desktops but not on smartphones. Take care of the content that is being served on different types of smartphones. If the content requires Adobe Flash, it won't play on iPhone or Android versions 4.1 and higher.
  • Incorrect redirection of Googlebot-Mobile for smartphones to a website that is optimized for feature phones. As a result, the Googlebot-Mobile is redirected to the desktop site. The infinite redirect loop occurring is recognized as error.
  • The mistake can be easily avoided if all Googlebot-Mobile user-agents identify themselves as specific mobile devices. Webmasters should treat these Googlebot agents exactly the way they will treat the mobile devices. As an example, the Googlebot-Mobile phone for smartphones identifies itself as an iPhone and webmasters should serve the same that will be received by an iPhone user.

Google recommends that you should test the website on different mobile devices and operating systems or emulators. Video testing should also be included in this religious test session. It will help you in improving the mobile web experience of users and allow the searchers to see your content fully.

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Navneet Kaushal

Navneet Kaushal is the founder and CEO of PageTraffic, an SEO Agency in India with offices in Chicago, Mumbai and London. A leading search strategist, Navneet helps clients maintain an edge in search engines and the online media. Navneet's expertise has established PageTraffic as one of the most awarded and successful search marketing agencies.
4.thumbnail Google Planning to Roll Out Ranking Changes for Smartphones!
4.thumbnail Google Planning to Roll Out Ranking Changes for Smartphones!