This may sound crazy, but Google is finally now identifying mobile-optimized sites in its search results for mobile users. I’d have thought they’d have been doing just that for quite some time, and it really shocks me to learn that they haven’t been doing this all along, at least in the last few years when mobile device use has soared exponentially.
Two Google mobile search team members, Ryoichi Imaizumi and Doantam Phan, announced the new service in a Nov. 18 post on the Google Webmaster Central Blog.
“Have you ever tapped on a Google Search result on your mobile phone, only to find yourself looking at a page where the text was too small, the links were tiny, and you had to scroll sideways to see all the content?” wrote Imaizumi and Phan. “This usually happens when the Website has not been optimized to be viewed on a mobile phone.”
To help end such frustrations for mobile users, Google is now adding a “mobile-friendly” label to mobile search results so that users can more easily find Websites that will properly display on their devices, they wrote. The improvement is rolling out globally over the next few weeks.
Web pages are eligible for the “mobile-friendly” tag if Googlebot search systems detect that the sites avoid software that’s uncommon on mobile devices, such as Flash; if they use text that is readable without zooming; if they size content to the screen so users don’t have to scroll horizontally or zoom; and if the links are placed far enough apart so that the correct one can be easily tapped, according to the post.
Google is providing Web page designers with testing tools to ensure that their pages meet the mobile-friendly criteria. The tools are in English to start but soon will be available in other languages.
“We see these labels as a first step in helping mobile users to have a better mobile web experience,” wrote Imaizumi and Phan. “We are also experimenting with using the mobile-friendly criteria as a ranking signal.”
Google is often working to make it easier for mobile device users to see Websites properly on their devices. In July, Google Search launched a service that alerts mobile device users when they find a Website that won’t be fully compatible with their devices so they can learn why the sites they are seeking aren’t working properly.
The new “mobile-friendly” site tag will hopefully be a helpful feature for mobile users. It’s just a bit amazing that we haven’t seen it before now.