Google has made a major change in the way it displays results on smartphones and tablets, a change predicted to alter the shopping habits of millions of people, may it be shopping for services or goods.
The update was launched on Tuesday and it mainly changed the way the search engine favors the “mobile-friendly” websites. If your website does not fit the criteria, Google will automatically rank it lower, while others who fit the description will receive the top spots – translating into more money and visitors.
Google’s new formula will not be applied on searches displayed on desktop and laptops, as the company focused on where the most users are: smartphones. A lot of people are influenced by the top searches, especially when they search for places to eat, or products to buy. This drastic change has made some search experts dub the new system as “Mobile-geddon.”
Itai Sadan, CEO and co-founder of DudaMobile, says that many websites are in for a big surprise when their view count will experience a dramatic drop – views that otherwise would come from mobile visitors.
Mobile is the king of the trend and Google knows it
It is the first time Google Inc. altered its algorithms this much, causing all the eyes in the industry to follow their moves step by step, says Matt McGee, senior editor at Search Engine Land, a business publication that monitors the updates that Google makes to its algorithms.
The search giant has made public knowledge the criteria that websites need to follow if they want to remain in their good graces: quick loading on mobile devices; content available by scrolling up and down, avoiding the right or left swiping; large buttons that allow users to see them quickly and access them even from small screens; easy purchasing or accessing of different actions.
When websites are designed to function properly on PC, it usually means that mobile devices will have a tough time displaying the graphics. Users also complain of text that doesn’t fit on smaller screens, making it a hassle to read.
Google’s move isn’t that sudden: it’s been years since the company urged website designers to have the mobile versions in mind, as more and more users started searching for information on mobile than desktop alternatives.
According to comScore’s assessment, about 30 percent of all U.S. search inquires – more than 18 billion – were sourced back to mobile devices in the last three months of 2014. Google is the leader in the search industry, processing two-thirds in the U.S. and a lot more on international level.
Expecting loads of complaints and wanting to minimize them, Google revealed its plans at the beginning of the current year. At the same time, it offered a step-by-step guide and a test that allowed website owners to see if they fit the new standards Google wanted.
Even though this is the most significant change in algorithms, the company has had other two major updates in the past regarding the search formula. Done in 2011 and 2012, Google received a lot of criticism for its attempts of triaging the digital rubbish and the deceitful results.
The ultimate goal sounded reasonable, but a lot of companies complained they were unrightfully demoted and that their content became more difficult to access even though it was legit.
Adapting the search formula
A lot of the big companies and major websites took heed and transformed their content so it fits Google’s mobile standard. However, millions of small businesses are threatened with complete extinction from Google’s top results – mostly because they didn’t have the funds or the motivation to make their websites smartphone-accessible.
According to McGee, there weren’t solid reasons for small websites to become mobile friendly, so Google decided it was time to offer them some really good ones. The transition, though, will not be an easy one, and a lot of them will be lost in the third and fourth page of results.
Google’s search formula is based on one of the most complex algorithms, weighing a lot of factors when it decided the website ranking in the results. Since the very beginning, Google tried to offer the best results by checking if they contained the most related information to the user’s search request.
But that consideration is up for debate now, since Google’s inclination to mobile friendly content might demote some websites with very relevant content from the front page – favoring those which respect the criteria of easy accessibility on smartphones.
This is one of the more unfortunate consequences, but at the same time, it is also justifiable. According to Whit Andrews, Gartner analyst, it doesn’t matter if you have relevant content if the user cannot access it (maybe because it takes too long to load, or because it cannot be read from a mobile device).
Andrews added that “availability is part of being relevant,” even though a lot of people will complain. Most users will not regard a result relevant if it doesn’t appear right on their smartphone. Google did nothing else but respect the trend.
Image Source: BGR
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