Starting on April 21, 2015, Google will start to take the usability of websites on smartphones (mobile-friendly) into consideration as a ranking factor. Back in 2013, Google already announced that the correct configuration of mobile websites is a ranking factor. How much influence do these ranking factors already have today and how strong will their influence on the rankings be, in the future?
New: Smartphone Visibility Index
In order to analyse the consequences of these changes, we created the SISTRIX Smartphone Visibility Index. We have already been measuring the desktop search rankings for most of our indexes from 2010 on, and have ever since used this data to calculate a Visibility Index for every website. Thereby changing the world of SEO. Influences of SEO-measures and Google Updates suddenly became visible for every website and were easy to understand. Additionally, you can also easily undertake competitor analyses with our data.
We are now the first SEO tool to also offer a Smartphone Visibility Index. With it, you can directly compare the desktop- and smartphone-Visibility for a domain and unearth weaknesses in the configuration and usability of mobile websites. Our goal for the Smartphone Visibility Index was to identify weaknesses within the mobile implementation of a website. This is possible, as Google uses the same index for both desktop and mobile searches, which is augmented with information on the mobile version of a result.
We use the same keyword-set, query-depth and weighting of search volume and ranking positions for the mobile results, as we do for the desktop results, so that both indicators can be compared to each other. This means that we will monitor and evaluate approximately 100 million data-points for both indicators.
Nowadays, about 20 percent of the traffic is already generated through smartphones. This, in connection with Google’s announcement, means that mobile now gains a completely new dynamic and finally steps out of the shadows of its niche. No SEO should ignore this topic anymore in the future.
Smartphone Visibility Index free of charge
We take part in Google’s new offensive for better mobile websites. From now on, you can use the SISTRIX Toolbox to compare the desktop- and smartphone-Visibility Index values with each other.
The correct configuration of your mobile website already has an influence on your rankings
Even though being mobile friendly will not be a ranking factor until April 21st, our first analysis shows that correctly configuring your website already has a huge influence on the mobile rankings. The core of the issue is that mobile users should get exactly the content on their smartphone, which Google announces in the search results. This, however, is prevented in particular by the following configurations:
- content not accessible on mobile
- faulty redirects
- specific 404-errors on mobile pages
- irrelevant reciprocal links
If the Smartphone Visibility Index value is noticeably lower than the desktop Visibility Index, then you should definitely check out these points.
Starting on April 21, it will not only be important that smartphone users get access to the content they requested without any problems (correct configuration), but also that the content is readable as well as usable when employing a mobile device (mobile friendly).
Why the mobile Visibility Index only looks at smartphones
Google differentiates between four mobile device-categories:
- Smartphones: like Android devices, iPhones or Windows Phones
- Tablets: treated more like Desktop computers
- Multimedia-Phones: do not support all HTML5 standards
- Feature-Phones: do not support standard HTML
When Google talks about “mobile phones” they are mostly talking about smartphones and not about tablets or feature phones. We followed Google in this definition and called this new indicator “Smartphone Visibility Index”. We believe that we can avoid misunderstandings by using the correct label in terms of Google.