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Google Tests 'Mobile Unfriendly' Icons in Mobile SERPs

Written by Oliver Pyper | 14 Oct 2014

Just last week we reported that Google may be planning to use mobile user experience as a ranking factor. In what appears to be a further step towards this goal, the search engine is now testing 'mobile unfriendly' icons in mobile SERPs.

As pointed out by Search Engine Watch's Yuyu Chen, the new feature appears as grey icons depicting a mobile phone with a strikeout through it. Chen cites examples from Twitter users where the icon appears next to articles from the BBC and the Daily Mail.

Back in July, Google announced it would let mobile users know when a site was unlikely to perform well on their devices, with an emphasis on Flash sites. And earlier this month, it began testing 'mobile friendly' icons in the SERPs, as reported by Search Engine Land.

However, these 'mobile unfriendly' icons have not been spotted in the wild, until now.

As Chen points out, whatever system Google is using to determine 'mobile unfriendliness' is not yet entirely accurate. For instance, the previously mentioned BBC article is flagged, despite the BBC having a mobile-specific site.

Chen also notes that Google may be A/B testing the 'friendly' and 'unfriendly' versions of the icons, with the intention of eventually settling on the icon that presents the best user experience. Or even using both.

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