Google Is Experimenting With Special Ranking For Mobile-Friendly Sites

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Google already penalizes sites that provide a bad experience to mobile searchers. Now the company has confirmed that it’s testing with what seems like a boost for those providing a great experience.

Google said today that it is experimenting with giving sites that have earned its new mobile-friendly label some type of special treatment within its ranking algorithm. From the post:

We see these labels as a first step in helping mobile users to have a better mobile web experience. We are also experimenting with using the mobile-friendly criteria as a ranking signal.

Google hasn’t clarified more about what this experiment will do — in particular, whether it will ensure that sites tagged mobile-friendly will rank better in mobile search results. But we think that will be the case. Here’s why:

In June 2013, Google introduced a penalty for sites providing a bad mobile search experience. Sites generating errors and other problems for mobile visitors received less visibility in Google’s smartphone results — the results Google shows to mobile searchers, as opposed to desktop searchers.

Since there’s already a penalty, a boost for sites doing it right seems to make the most sense for what this experiment is. Sites that have gone above-and-beyond to earn a mobile-friendly stamp of approval by Google seem likely to get a boost over sites that haven’t.

That’s not the say sites that haven’t earned the label have no chance of ranking well, nor does it mean these sites face a penalty, as with sites that generate actual errors. Rather, it seems like sites that are in this middle or average group will still have visibility, just not as much if there are also mobile-friendly sites for a query.

Want the boost, even if it’s only an experiment? Then earn the new mobile-friendly label, which is covered more in our related story: Google Officially Launches “Mobile-Friendly” Labels In Mobile Search Results.

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