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Upcoming Changes To Google's Mobile Search

Google will roll out two updates to the way it delivers search results for mobile in January 2017.  In a post it explains the reasons behind the changes:

"In Google Search, our goal is to help users quickly find the best answers to their questions, regardless of the device they’re using. Today, we’re announcing two upcoming changes to mobile search results that make finding content easier for users."

 

Removal Of The 'Mobile Friendly' Label

Google seems to be happy with the progress of website owners in adapting to the new mobile centric world we now live in by updating their sites to be mobile friendly.  They recently found that 85% of all pages in the mobile search results now meet this criteria and have decided to remove the label to declutter search results displayed on mobile. 

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Search Ranking Penatly For Intrusive Interstitials

Google also wants to encourage website owners to improve accessability to information via mobile by removing obstructive pop ups.  To do so they are going to introduce a ranking penalty for websites that include any of the following:

 

  • Showing a popup that covers the main content, either immediately after the user navigates to a page from the search results, or while they are looking through the page.
  • Displaying a standalone interstitial that the user has to dismiss before accessing the main content.
  • Using a layout where the above-the-fold portion of the page appears similar to a standalone interstitial, but the original content has been inlined underneath the fold.

Google Pop Up Penalty 

 

However Google does understand there are legitimate reasons for pop ups to be included on mobile websites.  Therefore the following pop ups will not by the update in ranking signal:

 

  • Interstitials that appear to be in response to a legal obligation, such as for cookie usage or for age verification.
  • Login dialogs on sites where content is not publicly indexable. For example, this would include private content such as email or unindexable content that is behind a paywall.
  • Banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space and are easily dismissible. For example, the app install banners provided by Safari and Chrome are examples of banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space.

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With over 65% of web traffic coming from mobile mediums, this update should be considered when evaluating any current or future website properties.