Google Inc. is revamping its search service to favour websites that are tailored to mobile devices as its seeks to shape its features around the rising popularity of smartphones.
Changes to the company's search service will boost the ranking of "mobile-friendly" pages, analyzing whether the websites are suited for hand-held devices, Google said in a blog post Tuesday. The changes affect the way sites are ranked in all languages.
Google needs to improve query results to ensure that they don't lead to sites that don't work for the growing number of people who run searches on smartphones, said Praveen Menon, an analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence. As more mobile users gravitate toward apps to get information, Google risk losing ground – and ad sales – if searches are ineffective, he said.
"It really enforces the company's attempt to make searches a lot more actionable and accurate," Menon said.
Google alerted developers to the change in a February blog post, saying that the new system "will have a significant impact" on search results. Several news outlets have said the change will usher in "Mobilegeddon" for sites that aren't up to snuff.
Characteristics of mobile-friendliness include ensuring that the text size isn't too small, links are spaced sufficiently to allow for easy clicking and content fits the width of a small screen. Google offered developers a guide to conforming to the new criteria.
"While the mobile-friendly change is important, we still use a variety of signals to rank search results," Google said in a blog post. "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 high if it has great content for the query."