On June 11, Google announced changes to mobile rankings in its search engines that will challenge enterprises to start paying more attention to their mobile SEO and addresses–or start paying for it.
Google outlined several updates, including a plan to address smartphone user “pain points” such as faulty redirects, which occur when a link is redirected from a desktop page to a useless mobile page. In cheap mobile optimization, for example, all desktop pages may be set to redirect smartphone users to a home page even when a Google search brings up a specific mobile product page. This not only hurts the business, it makes Google look bad in the process, so Google is trying to lower the incidence rate.
Another issue the company mentioned was “smartphone-only errors,” bad development that sends smartphone users an error message instead of loading a webpage. These 404s are caused by lazy deployment that fails to inform users about mobile requirements or confuses the parameters for feature phones and smartphones. Another common error message is generated when businesses use images or videos that are incompatible with smartphones, a result of poor embedding and other bad practices. Google is encouraging webmasters to note such issues and start addressing mobile SEO difficulties now, before the ranking changes take effect.
According to a brief Twitter message by Matt Cutts of Google’s search quality team, the changes will be implemented over the next couple of months, which does not give companies much time to correct their development errors. However, the advice can still help companies with mobile sites in development or those updating their mobile management practices.
One challenge facing many companies is the enormous fragmentation of the mobile industry. When developing mobile solutions, businesses must take into account multiple devices from varying generations and several platforms with a myriad of compatibility differences.
Companies that develop for only one brand may find themselves losing face in Google mobile SEO rankings as people using different devices try to access the content. To prevent these problems, Google suggests a wise strategy: Test on as many mobile devices and operating systems as possible. Online emulators can help speed up the process for smaller companies, but customer input remains important, too.
By linking customer dissatisfaction and search engine rankings, Google is doing enterprises a favor by sending them a clear message: Mobile browsing is now as important as desktop viewing, and sloppy ports are no longer an acceptable solution.
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