Archive for April, 2015

Title: Using Flash Can Really Cost You In Google Now

Search Engine News, Search Engine Optimization

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Google advising websites to use HTML5 instead of Flash for multimedia is nothing new. What is new is that it can directly cost you search rankings now.

As you’ve probably hears by now, Google announced a new ranking signal based on websites’ mobile-friendliness. This went into effect beginning earlier this week, though it may take a week or to to completely roll out.

There are a lot of reasons your webpages may register as non-mobile-friendly, but one that is sure to be a problem is the use of Flash.

“Avoid common mistakes that frustrate mobile visitors, such as featuring unplayable videos (e.g., Flash video as the page’s significant content),” Google tells webmasters. “Mobile pages that provide a poor searcher experience can be demoted in rankings or displayed with a warning in mobile search results.”

Google has of course been warning against this for years.

All the way back in 2013, the company said this in a Webmaster Central blog post: “Many websites embed videos in a way that works well on desktops but is unplayable on smartphone devices. For example, if content requires Adobe Flash, it won’t be playable on an iPhone or on Android versions 4.1 and higher.”

“Instead of using a proprietary video player or putting content in unsupported formats, we recommend using HTML5 standard tags to include videos or animations,” Google says. “For animated content rendered using Flash or other multimedia players, consider using HTML5 animations that work across all web browsers. Google Web Designer makes it easy to create these animations in HTML5.”

More on Google Web Designer here.

To learn more about Google’s new mobile-friendly signal and what you can do to get your site mobile-friendly, read this.

And for what it’s worth, Bing employs a similar philosophy.

Image via

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Title: Bing Wants Your Site To Be Mobile-Friendly Too

Search Engine News, Search Engine Optimization

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Let’s be honest, if you weren’t planning on making your site mobile-friendly for Google, you probably aren’t going to for Bing, but if you do make your site mobile-friendly, which is obviously good for users in addition to search engines, you might find that you do get some better rankings in Bing as an added bonus. You should also find that Bing tells users your site is indeed mobile-friendly when they happen a across it in search results.

As you’re probably aware, Google is about to implement an algorithm change that makes the mobile-friendliness of a website a signal in its rankings. If your site is mobile-friendly by Google’s standards, you might get a boost in rankings. If it’s not, you might get a big drop in rankings. It’s just one of many signals Google takes into account, but it’s an important one. Google clearly wants to give its users a good experience, and more and more of those users are on mobile devices more frequently than before. The signal is supposed to launch on April 21, which is coming right up.

Microsoft announced mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal back in November, but it is now labeling results as “mobile-friendly” just like Google started doing last year as it prepared to get sites ready for the algorithmic adjustment (h/t: Search Engine Roundtable).

“Traditionally, Bing wasn’t heavily relying on specific device and platform signals to provide web results to the user. You would get similar results on your PC, Mac, or smartphone for most of your searches,” said Bing principal program manager Mir Rosenberg in a blog post in November. “However, we live in a mobile-first, cloud-first world and we need to think about our users’ search experience on mobile devices differently. As a result, we’ve been really intensifying how we look at web results across these mobile devices. We have a long and exciting journey ahead of us, but as a very first step in this long-term investment, we started probing web pages for “mobile friendliness” and ranking web pages accordingly on our users’ mobile phones.”

They showed this example to give you an idea of how search results would change as a result of the mobile-friendly signal:

“In this example, we know which pages are mobile-friendly so automatically rank them higher with the new update, whereas previously the searcher would have had a much bigger change of landing on a non-mobile friendly page or possibly had to wait for a redirect to a mobile-friendly page,” wrote Rosenberg. “As always, there are many ranking factors at play — and mobile raking has its fair share of Secret Squirrel stuff — but here are some of the things that we do to improve mobile relevance: We identify and classify mobile and device-friendly web pages and websites; We analyze web documents from a mobile point-of-view by looking at content compatibility, content readability [and] mobile functionality (to weed out “junk”, that is pages that are 404 on mobile or Flash only etc.); Return more mobile-friendly URLs to the mobile SERP; Ranking the results pages based on all of the above.”

There’s a good chance you missed Bing’s news in November, because Bing just doesn’t command the attention that Google does since its share of the search market is so much smaller. Still, there are a lot of people that do use it, and it does also power Yahoo Search (at least for the time being). At this point in time, by the way, Yahoo does not display a mobile-friendly label in search results.

Now that Google has lit a fire under webmasters’ butts, it’s good to know that improvements made to sites for Google should also help these same sites in Bing.

If your site isn’t mobile-friendly yet, and you haven’t gotten started looking into how to improve it, you can start here for a look at what Google specifically tells webmasters to do. The article will point you to all the necessary links for Google’s own documentation.

You might also want to watch this Q&A session Google released on the subject. It’s an hour long, so you know there’s a great deal to consider.

Google also recently named some specific things to avoid for a mobile-friendly site. These include: blocked JavaScript, CSS and image files; unplayable content; faulty redirects; mobile-only 404s; app download interstitials; irrelevant cross-links; and slow mobile pages.

On that last note, Moz just put out a really good article that will help you address the speed factor.

While we’re on the topic of getting traffic from Bing, the search engine also announced some changes to image search, which it says will improve your traffic.

Images via Bing

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