Google to label 'mobile friendly' websites

Whether a site is optimized for mobile could become a search rank signal, Google said

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In the next few weeks, Google will start to label websites that render well on mobile devices and is considering giving that label weight as a search rank signal, the company said Tuesday.

Websites can earn a "mobile-friendly" badge that is displayed with search results if the site avoids requiring software such as Adobe Systems' Flash, which isn't officially supported in later versions of Android or by Apple's iOS.

The designation can also be earned if text is readable without zooming, content is sized so that horizontal and vertical scrolling isn't required and links are spaced far enough apart for easy tapping.

"We see these labels as a first step in helping mobile users to have a better mobile web experience," wrote Ryoichi Imaizumi and Doantam Phan of Google's Mobile Search.

In a report released last year, comScore calculated that more than one-third of time spent browsing the Web was done from a mobile device, a figure expected to grow as smart phones become more widely used.

Google has created a page to test if a site will be considered mobile friendly and a guide for building such sites.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk

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