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April 22nd, 2015

Time to mobilise


The internet has gone mobile. Surging sales of smartphones and tablets means that browsing while on the move is part of everyday life now. But new changes to Google’s search engine algorithms mean that optimizing websites for mobile devices is about to become even more important.

Google announced its changes to the way it compiles search results in late February, and put them into action two days ago: Tuesday 21 April. It doesn’t give too much away about the details of its algorithms, which in any case are mind-bogglingly complex for all but the most dedicated SEO experts and website developers. But the main implication is simple: searches that are made from mobile devices will soon prioritise websites that are optimized for their devices. Web pages that are badly suited to reading on mobile devices will find themselves dropped significantly further down the list of results.

It is welcome news for consumers, who are often frustrated by websites that are clunky or fiddly to use on their mobile devices, and who will now be much more likely to be pointed towards ones that suit their smartphone or tablet. And given the massive trend towards mobile browsing, Google’s changes are in some ways overdue. Worldwide, four in five internet users now own a smartphone, and nearly half have a tablet. People’s use of mobile devices on the internet increased by two thirds last year, and as much as 44% of ecommerce in the UK is now done from a mobile. So while desktops remain the most popular place for using the web, that will not be the case for very much longer.

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