Google’s mobile-based focus has still caught some web designers on the back foot, but five months after the tech giant rang the changes, the impacts are still being understood.
Perhaps most importantly, “mobilegeddon” didn’t actually happen, but according to data from a new Searchmetrics mobile SEO report, there have been significant effects that any content producer should be taking into account.
The increase in the percentage of mobile-friendly sites in Google’s top 30 results has notably increased. Before the update and change of emphasis towards more mobile-friendly sites, only 68% of ranked destination URLs were deemed to fit the bill.
Since the changes, the share has increased to 71% of the total ranked websites.
Factors in mobile rankings
The Searchmetrics study aimed to find out the ranking factors that affected mobile sites, and one of the main discoveries was the way that Google continued to clamp down on features such as app interstitials, which can disrupt a smooth user experience on mobile devices.
The report also found a correlation between UX factors and mobile rankings, which means image-heavy sites could be suffering.
Another factor was found to be the space between links on mobile sites, as mistaken user clicks is part of Google’s mobile-friendly testing criteria.
Other details that could influence mobile site rankings were found to include using larger font sizes, making use of fewer structural and interactive elements and, of course, the impact of the number and type of ads featured on a site.
When it comes to building mobile-friendly sites, loading speed is always a consideration, so minimising file sizes is essential to gain improvements in loading times. In fact, the study found that the top ten ranked mobile sites loaded the fastest, with an average time of 1.10 seconds, against an average across the top 30 of 1.17 seconds.
Another technical consideration is the use of Flash design, which isn’t widely supported by mobile devices. Only 5% of highly ranked mobile pages make use of the application as opposed to 14% of pages designed with desktops in mind.