Google to boost rankings of mobile-optimized sites in mobile search results again

Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) said it will issue an update to its mobile search results that will once again boost the rankings of mobile-friendly pages over sites that aren't optimized for smaller devices.

The company said in a blog post that an update will begin to roll out in May "that increases the effect of the ranking signal to help our users find even more pages that are relevant and mobile-friendly." The move extends on an effort that began in late 2014 when Google began flagging "mobile-friendly" sites in its rankings, enabling wireless users to see which pages are easy to use on phones, and continued a few months later when the company actually started optimizing the results for users who searched on mobile devices.

"If you've already made your site mobile-friendly, you will not be impacted by the update," Google Software Engineer Klemen Kloboves wrote on the company's Webmaster Central Blog. "And remember, the intent of the search query is still a very strong signal -- so even if a page with high quality content is not mobile-friendly, it could still rank well if it has great, relevant content."

Online search -- and the ad revenues it helps generate -- has long been Google's bread and butter, of course, and mobile has played an increasingly important role for the company as smartphone search activity has ramped up. Google said last month that mobile search helped drive $213 billion in revenue during the fourth quarter of 2015, and a transcript of court proceedings in a long-running licensing fight with Oracle indicate Google handed over more than $1 billion to Apple in 2014 in payments likely related to keeping its search bar on the iPhone and iPad.

As TechCrunch noted, Google recently launched the Accelerated Mobile Page (AMP) program, which is designed to expedite the delivery of content of AMP-enabled pages to mobile users. While AMP-enabled sites won't be ranked more highly under Google's coming update -- not yet, at least -- they will continue to be identified as such.

For more:
- see this Google blog post

Related articles:
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Report: Google paid $1B to remain default search on iPhone in 2014
Facebook planning dedicated video site that could challenge AT&T, Verizon's Go90
Google sees strong growth in mobile, YouTube ad sales in Q2

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