Google may be taking mobile user experience into account when calculating rankings for pages, posits Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Land.
As confirmed back in May, Google's spiders can now "see what users see" when crawling a page, rather than just its underlying code. And according to Schwartz, Google's Gary Illyes at Search Marketing Expo East pushed the point that webmasters need to focus on user experience.
Was Google hinting at something? Schwartz contacted the search giant for clarification and received the following statement:
"Because at Google we are aiming to provide a great user experience on any device, we're making a big push to ensure the search results we deliver reflect this principle. We want users to be able to enjoy the web wherever they are."
Although this isn't an out-and-out confirmation that mobile user experience will affect rankings, the statement "we're making a big push to ensure the search results we deliver reflect this principle" is a strong hint that it may soon be a ranking factor.
Google already penalises sites that bring up errors for mobile users. But Schwartz says Google's warnings at Search Marketing Expo East hint at something bigger. For instance, sites that redirect users to a mobile page but then fail to use mobile-friendly fonts may still be penalised under the theorised new ranking factor.
But it's unlikely Google is already penalising sites for poor mobile user experience. As Schwartz points out: "With many things Google has hinted at in the past, such as HTTPS, page speed, ad-heavy pages, quality content and so on, these warnings have come months before, and Google has released new algorithms that incorporate them into the ranking algorithm."
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