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Is Google ploughing a lone furrow in targeting non mobile-friendly websites?

Much has been made of the algorithm changes Google has made to reflect the increasing adoption of smartphones and tablets for internet usage. ‘Mobilegeddon’ as it was euphemistically known, changed the face of SEO, and has directly impacted on site traffic for many businesses which have seen their search engine rankings drop significantly. But is this new focus on mobile exclusive to Google? What about other leading search engines? Are they themselves making changes to reflect the increased use of mobile devices for internet searching, or are they simply letting Google plough its own furrow?

Well, you won’t be surprised to hear that the growth in mobile adoption has also resonated with other search engines like Bing, Baidu and Yandex, though to a lesser extent in the latter’s case.

A brief synopsis of what the other major search engines are doing about increased mobile usage.

Bing

Bing has announced that it will be making the necessary changes so that it pages accurately reflect the growth in mobile adoption. It has said that it will be updating its mobile ranking factors to ensure that the website is more mobile-friendly. It is therefore making mobile a priority, particularly in the countries outside the UK where it has a much bigger share of the market.

Baidu

For business targeting the Chinese market, the algorithm changes made by Baidu have had a significant impact. In August, 2014, Baidu released an update to it search engine algorithm called Ice Bucket; this change focused specifically on mobile usability. The core driver for most of the changes Baidu makes to its algorithms is driven by ease of use for searchers. So in true form this latest change ensures that content for mobile users is easy to access. Any site which does not meet this rigid standard is penalised. Since the initial launch of this algorithm in early 2014, Baidu has made some changes and improvements to the rules; and in November 2014 released Ice Bucket Algorithm 2.0.

What specific features in mobile websites does Baidu penalise? Well, there are a number of red flags, but the most notable are:

  • Websites or pages which use pop-up windows
  • Websites which force an app download
  • Pages with a large number of adverts on them
  • Websites where content is hidden behind a login screen

If your business website targets the market in China and uses any of the above-named elements, you will undoubtedly see your website rankings fall.

Yandex

The Russian search behemoth, Yandex, doesn’t use a specific mobile algorithm: however, its main algorithm is based around usability and making websites as easy as possible to access, so, even though it does not apply specific rules to mobile websites, a lack of mobile-friendliness will undoubtedly have some impact.

Does Yandex not target mobile specifically because of the lack of mobile users? On the contrary; the smartphone market in Russia is actually much bigger than you might think.

A relatively recent study by eMarketer showed that there were approximately 58 million smartphone users in Russia accounting for 55 per cent of total mobile phone ownership. So although Yandex has not made specific algorithm changes for mobile, it still insists that if businesses want to get optimum visibility and traffic on its search engine, then all Russian websites have to be accessible and easy to use for both mobile and desktop users.

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