Are We Mobile-Friendly Yet?

Every site I’ve built in the last couple of years incorporates a device-responsive layout using media queries to serve different styles to different device widths. (Except for one, which used device-detection at the client’s insistence, but I don’t like to talk about that one.) I’m not unique — every developer I work with can probably say the same thing.

Making a responsive site costs a little more than a static, fixed-width site, as everyone should know by now, but given the trends in mobile-device usage and search engines’ inclusion of “mobile friendliness” in their ranking algorithms, those of us still building static sites have their heads in the sand.

Google is trying to help yank those heads up (actually, they’re trying to help themselves by improving the quality of their search results, but we can pretend) by providing a simple pass/fail tool to tell you if a site is Mobile Frieldly, here. It’s also avaialable via Webmaster Tools.

Google Changes Mobile-Site Rankings

On June 11, Google announced a change to it’s ranking algorithm to adjust for sites with “misconfigured” mobile redirects. They say —

To improve the search experience for smartphone users and address their pain points, we plan to roll out several ranking changes in the near future that address sites that are misconfigured for smartphone users.

They list two common misconfigurations:

  1. Sites that redirect every desktop page to the mobile home page;
  2. Sites that show content to a desktop UA but an error page to a mobile UA for the same URL.

There’s more and this should matter to some people.

Big Change to Google Search

In 2010, Google made a huge change to it’s search algorithm (that’s all the behind-the-curtain calculations that go into deciding what results to show for a query string). Yesterday they announced, via a blog post, a tweak to that algorithm which will give preference to more recent results on some kinds of searches–that is, if they determine that a query will benefit from newer sources (say, a search for “Occupy Wall Street”) they will deliver newer results at the expense of relevance.

Google estimates 35% of searches will be affected. That’s a huge number.