Google Poised to Penalise Websites that Are Not Mobile Friendly

In a move that has been dubbed the "Mobilegeddon" by some industry commentators, Google has revamped its mobile search algorithm to reward mobile-friendly websites with higher rankings and penalise sites that have not been adequately optimised for display on smartphones by giving them less prominence in search results.

The algorithm update, released today (21 April), represents a major change that will cause a stir in the SEO and web design sector - optimising for mobile is now an imperative rather than a choice.

A statement has been issued by the Google webmaster team announcing the change: "As people increasingly search on their mobile devices, we want to make sure they can find content that's not only relevant and timely, but also easy to read and interact with on smaller mobile screens. Starting 21 April, we'll use a web page's 'mobile-friendliness' as one of many factors to help rank searches done on mobile devices."

Additionally, Google is gearing to roll out a pilot scheme that will see mobile web URLs displayed in a streamlined 'breadcrumbs' format to show the pathway of their results. As an example, for a test case of US users, 'en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google' will be displayed as 'Wikipedia > wiki > Google'.

Google explained the reasoning behind this as follows: "Well-structured URLs offer users a quick hint about the page topic and how the page fits within the website. To help mobile searchers understand your website better when we show it in the mobile search results, today we're updating the algorithms that display URLs in the search results to better reflect the names of websites, using the real-world name of the site instead of the domain name, and the URL structure of the sites in a breadcrumbs-like format."

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