Google’s Starting To Enforce Smartphone Penalties: The Evidence

In June, Google announced it would be adjusting search rankings appearing on smartphones based on how well the site in question handled the mobile user experience. The company didn’t say exactly when these changes would be rolling out, but only said it planned “to roll out several ranking changes in the near future that address sites that are misconfigured for smartphone users.”

Screenshot_2013-09-13-15-34-27-300x533These smartphone misconfiguration errors include faulty redirects like app interstitials or homepage redirects, and smartphone-only errors such as unplayable videos, smartphone-only 404 pages and serving 404 pages or redirects when equivalent content exists on the desktop site.

How Soon Will We Start To See These Penalties?

It’s anyone’s guess how far away “the near future” is; so at SMX East, I presented results of a random sample of about a hundred queries where sites that exhibited these smartphone misconfiguration errors showed up in smartphone and desktop search results.

The point was to get a sense of whether Google was enforcing these new rules then, four months after their announcement; and furthermore, to see if they were rolling them out selectively, rather than enforcing all of them all at once.

For more about what I found then, and what I’ve found more recently, check out my Mobile Marketing column on Marketing Land.