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Updated: Google tweaks mobile search algorithm; should companies be worried?

Flipkart mobile friendly

Update: The Google mobile friendly test currently reflects that Paytm is a mobile friendly site.

Earlier (April 21): Starting today Google will mark-down websites that aren’t mobile friendly in search rankings and mark-up websites that are mobile friendly, reports Forbes. Want to know if your website is mobile friendly? Google has a test for it. The search giant will also look at individual pages for a particular domain based on this new parameter. Note that this change in ranking will only reflect in searches made through mobile phones and not for searches made on a tablet or desktop. However, companies that depend heavily on search traffic might still get affected, which essentially translates to loss of revenue, because of this change.

So, according to Google’s mobile friendly test, Flipkart.com is not mobile friendly and so is Paytm. On the other hand, JustDial and Zomato supposedly have mobile friendly websites.

Earlier this year in February, Google had informed that it will start using mobile friendliness as a ranking signal. It has already started using information from indexed apps as a ranking factor and claimed that users are likely to be provided more content from indexed apps in mobile search results.

Companies can take heart from the fact that a Google spokesperson told Re/code that mobile friendliness isn’t the sole criteria for mobile search results, and in case a site is not mobile friendly but has high quality content, it  could still rank high in the search results.

Impact: Major online businesses that don’t have a mobile friendly site, as per Google’s requirements, can always invest a bit to correct that situation. Since the Google update will take place in real time, once a website is mobile friendly, it can fight for its position on search results. The ones likely to be most affected by this change are small businesses and SMEs. A number of them have been able to survive thus far, without having to invest heavily on either a mobile site or app. Now the situation will change. It’s interesting also to note that some Indian Internet businesses like Flipkart and LocalOye are shifting to an app-only model, and we wonder how this will affect discovery on the search engine.

Advertising revenue still dominates Google’s overall revenues, accounting for 90.9% or $16.45 billion of the company’s revenues in the previous quarter. However, it’s worth noting that the company didn’t provide any indication on how its mobile ad business is performing, unlike its competitor Facebook which had mentioned that mobile advertising accounts for 66% of its overall advertising revenues.

Google’s CFO & senior VP Patrick Pichette had mentioned during the company’s Q4 2014 earnings conference call that the policy changes for its AdSense business, particularly AdSense for search, had negatively impacted the growth in clicks, resulting in fewer clicks, but also higher cost-per-clicks (CPCs).

Also Read: Google Play Store to introduce app ads as paid search results

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