Google today announced two changes to how it ranks search results. Google search is starting to take indexed apps and sites it labels as “mobile-friendly” into consideration.
Google has been experimenting with various levels of app indexing for years, with early features showing up as early as December 2013. Now it will use information from indexed apps as a ranking factor, but only for signed-in users who have said apps installed. This means Google search may surface content from indexed apps more prominently, showing you content from inside an app installed on your mobile device.
Back in November, Google started labeling sites as “mobile-friendly” to denote those that are optimized for phones. Now, the company is looking at using this as a ranking factor as well, but only in mobile searches. Still, this will affect all languages worldwide, and the company expects it “to have a significant impact in our search results.”
Google says the app indexing change goes into effect today, though it didn’t reveal when it would affect users who aren’t signed in. The mobile-friendly change will meanwhile begin rolling out on April 21. Chances are you won’t see the effects yourself for a few months; however, mileage will vary depending on what you search for and how often.
If you’re a webmaster, you can make sure you have a mobile-friendly site by checking out the developer guide, testing your own pages using the Mobile-Friendly Test, and grabbing a full list of mobile usability issues across your site using the Mobile Usability Report. Even if you don’t care about SEO, you’ll probably want to do this, as it will improve your site’s performance.
In short, Google is pulling apps, mobile, and the web closer together with this ranking change. At the same time, the company is helping developers and webmasters improve their offerings, and getting even more data about where and how users are accessing information.