Google shows love to mobile-friendly sites, pushes them up search results from today

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A significant change to the way Google ranks search results on smartphones takes effect today, a move which’ll hit businesses that still haven’t gotten around to making their websites mobile friendly.

With more and more people using their smartphone rather than a PC to browse the Web , the Mountain View company has decided to start prioritizing sites that have been optimized for mobile over those that haven’t. Searches made on tablets and PCs are not affected by the changes.

Google started labeling sites as mobile-friendly toward the end of last year, but held back from prioritizing them until it’d publicized the plan more widely. The new algorithm affects mobile searches in all languages worldwide, the company said recently, and will have a “significant impact” on the way search results are listed.

It added, “Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.”

The Web giant says it considers a site as mobile friendly if, for example, it contains text that can be read comfortably without having to zoom. It must also fit properly with the display so you don’t have to scroll across the screen to find the rest of the sentence or additional content, and avoidmobile-friendly software that isn’t common on the majority of mobile devices (eg. Flash).

While mobile users of Google search will surely be happy with today’s development, businesses without a mobile-optimized website and who remain unaware of the changes will be left wondering where on earth their site’s disappeared to in Google’s revamped search listings (hint: it’s probably beyond page 20 now).

Website owners and designers can find out if their site meets Google’s mobile-friendly criteria by hitting this page and entering its URL. If it does, you’ll be given the nod, and a small “mobile friendly” label will appear alongside your site’s name in mobile search results.

If it doesn’t, you’d better make some changes sharpish.

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