The rising number of people using smartphones and tablets to search the web and access sites has not gone unnoticed by Google, which has spent the majority of 2014 tweaking its products to accommodate the shift in browsing habits amongst millions of its users internationally and now it has officially announced the introduction of a new SERP feature, which could once again result in the adjustment of SEO priorities among webmasters.
In a Webmaster Central blog post, the essential features of the new label were outlined, indicating that sites which are categorised as being mobile friendly will be identified as such. This means that those using smartphones to look for content, products and services will have a good idea about how easy it will be to access a particular page from their current device.
In the blog, Google points out that in the past, it was all too easy for its users to have no idea whether or not a link presented to them in a mobile SERP would lead them to a site optimised for portable platforms or one which was only really functional when viewed using a desktop machine. But now, such information is provided upfront with a number of criteria determining whether or not a site can achieve the status of being mobile friendly.
Firstly, it is necessary that a page does not feature embedded software elements that might not be widely compatible in the mobile space, among which Flash is considered a big no-no by Google.
Secondly, a site must have text that can be read easily on a smaller screen without necessitating any kind of size adjustment or zooming on the part of the end user. The same goes for content that might require horizontal scrolling or zooming in other directions; all of this has to go if the mobile friendly label is something a webmaster wants to have applied to their pages in Google’s SERPs.
Another interesting factor that Google takes into consideration here is the placement of links, because only sites which put links far enough apart that they can easily be tapped accurately by the user, without any miss-taps due to their close proximity, will be labelled favourably under the new system.
The good news is that webmasters will not have to deal with any ambiguity as to whether or not their site qualifies for a mobile friendly label, because Google has created an official tool to test the legitimacy of a site and see whether it stands up to the parameters laid down in the blog.
The search giant also advises that sites which are based on content management systems from third party platforms, including the likes of WordPress, can and should be migrated to mobile-friendly templates, which are increasingly available.
Pursuing mobile optimisation was already seen as essential by many, but now there are clear SEO advantages to doing so which means the rush to achieve this will no doubt commence amongst webmasters that have been slow off the mark.