Date
16 December 2017
Google's "algorithmic shift" is likely to penalize sites that prove to be inconvenient for mobile users. Photo: Bloomberg
Google's "algorithmic shift" is likely to penalize sites that prove to be inconvenient for mobile users. Photo: Bloomberg

Google search overhaul to punish mobile-unfriendly sites

Google is overhauling the way its search engine recommends websites on smartphones to favor those that are “mobile-friendly” and demote those that fail to meet its criteria.

The “algorithmic shift” in the world’s most popular search engine, which will start on Tuesday, is likely to penalize many sites, including those of Microsoft and the European Union, the Financial Times reported.

According to an online test provided by Google, the EU’s Europa website is “not mobile-friendly”. It contains text that is “too small to read”, links that are “too close together”, and content that is wider than the screen, the newspaper said.

The EU’s antitrust watchdog last week accused the technology giant of illegally using its dominance in online search to favor its own services over those of rivals.

The overhaul is expected to create a wide and deep impact as many people rely heavily on Google’s search engine to help them navigate the internet and lead them to the sites they are looking for.

Although the change will not apply to searches on tablets or desktop computers, it will still affect a lot of companies as mobile now accounts for half of all searches on Google.

“Those without a mobile-optimized site may no longer rank on page one, whereas competitors that do have a mobile presence will take their place,” Gabrio Linari, of online marketing firm The Search Agency UK, was quoted as saying.

This is crucial as web users rarely browse beyond the first page of Google’s search results, FT said.

Among those that are likely to be punished by Google’s new system are fashion brands such as Versace, technology sites such as Microsoft ’s Windows Phone, and financial services companies such as Legal and General, mobile marketing agency Somo said.

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