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'Mobilegeddon': Google To Punish Mobile-Hostile Sites Starting Today 356

jfruh writes: Google has announced that it will be adding mobile-friendliness to the list of factors that will get a site bumped up in search rankings. Sites that have no mobile versions — which includes sites owned by Wikipedia, the BBC and the European Union — will find themselves with lower Google search placement, starting today.
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'Mobilegeddon': Google To Punish Mobile-Hostile Sites Starting Today

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  • Instead... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by click2005 ( 921437 ) * on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @10:09AM (#49519179)

    How about doing this ONLY when the person is using a mobile device?

    • Re:Instead... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TWX ( 665546 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @10:12AM (#49519217)
      Or when a lack of mobile version actually matters?

      I've been using small devices to get to the Internet since the days of my Palm T3. There have been lots and lots of sites with mobile versions that were or are utter crap, and using the 'desktop' version on the mobile device is preferred or even necessary to use the site well. I don't see necessarily having a mobile site as being good.
      • Re:Instead... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Rei ( 128717 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @10:31AM (#49519439) Homepage

        Agreed. XKCD covered it concerning apps [xkcd.com], but it's usually not much better with mobile versions.

        What happened with Google? It's like every change they make these days is to make things worse. And I say this as a person who's generally a big Google fan.

        • Re:Instead... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Luckyo ( 1726890 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @10:40AM (#49519557)

          They have vested interest in mobile now because it's much more effective to monetize through their own dominant OS.

          • by thaylin ( 555395 )

            It is easier to monetize REGARDLESS of OS. Vast majority of the word is on their mobile device all day, less are on their computers.

          • They have vested interest in mobile now because it's much more effective to monetize through their own dominant OS.

            Depends on what you mean by "Dominant" in this regard.

            While it is true that there are more Android Devices in circulation that iOS Devices, Google makes its money from the INTERNET USAGE of those Devices. And when it comes to that particularly-interesting-to-Google metric, there is compelling evidence to suggest that iOS users spend up to SIX TIMES the amount of time on the Internet [forbes.com] than do Android users.

            So, when it comes to Google selling "ad impressions", iOS users might well be the "Dominant OS" as f

        • by Misagon ( 1135 )

          XKCD also covered mobile sites in Server Attention Span [xkcd.com].

      • When I was using a feature phone like a nokia 6555, the mobile version was a nice thing to have. But has anyone actually used a feature phone in the last 5 years? Most people either want a basic "dumb" phone, or a smart phone, with little demand in between the 2.

        • by Tx ( 96709 )

          OTOH if mobile-friendly happened to mean, amongst other things, no Flash, I for one would not be unhappy about this. That is the one thing still sadly common on "desktop" sites, that is not supported on mobile browsers. I suppose I will have to go and read the article to see what kind of mobile-friendly we are really talking about here.

        • Re:Instead... (Score:5, Informative)

          by DarkOx ( 621550 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @10:53AM (#49519681) Journal

          But has anyone actually used a feature phone in the last 5 years?

          Yes, for at least two reasons and probably others.

          First unless you go out of your way searching and get something like a jitter bug or something you can't get a dump phone. Even the most basic flip cheapest/free flip phone AT&T, VZW, TMOBILE etc offer is a J2ME feature phone with some data capability. I can get e-mail via IMAP, and NOAA weather info etc with J2ME apps that are easily installed. There may not be any useful apps pre-installed but that is another matter. Its unlikely outside some very specific corner use cases calling for specialized equipment a non-smart phone user isn't using a feature phone.

          Anyone who spends anytime in the wilderness hiking etc, still likes feature phones. They either have days of standby battery time, removable batters so you can prevent parasitic drain so as to be sure that lithium ion cell will be ready if you NEED it. They still tend to weigh less than even the smallest smart phones too; although the gap is shrinking. Finally these phones are cheap should they come to an unfortunate end like you slip fording a stream and everything in your pack gets soaked or you fall and crush the thing, etc no big loss and you don't have to have some insurance plan. Even if nothing bad happens to them they tend to be fairly rugged without the need for more weight in the form of protective cases etc.

          I know there are smart devices target at outdoor sports folks, but for me I have yet to find a product that is a clear winner over feature phones.

             

        • Re:Instead... (Score:5, Informative)

          by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @10:56AM (#49519721) Journal
          'Mobile' as in 'WAP' or whatever is as dead as dead can be; but there are definitely styles that look better on teeny little(but frequently high resolution) screens, and other styles that are effectively unreadable.

          Oddly, wikipedia is dinged in TFS as not having a mobile-friendly version; but I've found theirs to be among the more tasteful entries in the genre....
      • Re:Instead... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by houstonbofh ( 602064 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @10:34AM (#49519477)

        have been lots and lots of sites with mobile versions that were or are utter crap, and using the 'desktop' version on the mobile device is preferred or even necessary to use the site well. I don't see necessarily having a mobile site as being good.

        This right here! I am seriously fucking tired of everyone trying to turn my large screen high def computer into a fucking phone! There is a reason I do not browse the web on a "smart" phone. A 4 inch screen sucks! And when I can not get out of your "mobile optimized" site on my large tablet, guess what? I find another!

      • Re:Instead... (Score:5, Informative)

        by phayes ( 202222 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @10:38AM (#49519515) Homepage

        The list of sites where the mobile version is poorer than the normal one includes /. with beta and those sites that refuse to let me zoom into the content instead of forcing me to see tiny text next to oversize ads.

        • I've been on plenty of mobile ready sites. The one thing that always bugs the shit out of me are ...

          oversize ads

          that, and the new trend of having pop overs for ads or subscription services or "Use our Mobile App" ...

          Here is the deal, I keep a mental list of sites that do this, and I avoid them like the plague.

      • I'm actually wondering whether this is about downranking sites that have no stripped down "mobile" equivalent, or whether it's about downranking sites that don't use responsive CSS/HTML. The latter makes more sense and it doesn't leave mobile users forced to use crappy websites with most of the functionality (and often content) missing.

        The former makes no sense in any world, and it would be terrible for Google to go there.

        • The latter makes more sense and it doesn't leave mobile users forced to use crappy websites with most of the functionality (and often content) missing.

          True, but it also means that the site is more painful to use on a desktop. I have developed an intense loathing for "responsive design" over time, as I usually read websites in a relatively small window, intentionally obscuring the parts of the site that I'm not interested in at the moment.

          Sites that use "responsive design" interfere with doing that in a major way. Even worse, the "response" is often to reorganize the site in a way that effectively breaks it from a usability point of view. Slashdot itself i

      • Re:Instead... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by aaron4801 ( 3007881 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @12:37PM (#49520719)
        Mobile sites too often disallow zooming, fill half the small screen with oversized nav buttons, and just generally suck. What this is probably really about, given the example in TFS, is sites that discourage mobile browser access in favor of offering their own app that has a better experience. Can't get to google using the Wikipedia or BBC apps!
    • Re:Instead... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @10:15AM (#49519261)

      I've done little research on the matter but what I have heard is this ONLY effects mobile users when searching.

      • Well, I had a quick look at the article and The change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide was a definite clue. My first reaction had been a "wtf?" but this change makes excellent sense.

    • Re:Instead... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @10:17AM (#49519297) Homepage

      The honest answer to this question is Google cares about one thing, and one thing only ... their fucking ad revenue.

      So they've decided they'll use their dominant position to try to force everybody into re-tooling their sites to make sure Google makes as much money as possible.

      Never mind that most mobile versions of websites are utter garbage which are unusable and impossible to find anything, and that links you follow are immediately broken.

      This is purely about Google's revenue stream.

      But, yes, I agree with you ... when I'm searching from my desktop I don't give a flying crap if the site has a mobile presence or not, because I usually have to request the desktop site for it to be useful.

      But then Google would need to know you're a desktop, otherwise they're going to have different set of search results. And they don't want that.

      • by lgw ( 121541 )

        duckduckgo [duckduckgo.com] for the win, as always.

        • duckduckgo [duckduckgo.com] for the win, as always.

          agreed. ddg is my default on desktop and mobile, which means I can use shortcuts like !bangs in the url bar.

        • I switched to DuckDuckGo as my primary search engine a few weeks ago to give it a second shot, since I wasn't a fan of it back when it debuted. This time around is quite a bit different from the first time. I've still got a few quibbles, but by and large it's a solid service with results that are excellent, and it's a worthy replacement for Google Search.

          I suspect that most of my quibbles stem from my decades-long familiarity with Google Search, rather than from inherent problems in DDG, so the more I use i

      • The modern way to do mobile is responsive design. This also makes it better for desktop, because if you shrink your browser window down, the content resizes and relays out, and uses alternative layouts as appropriate, so you never have to scroll horizontally to read a web page.

        • This also makes it better for desktop, because if you shrink your browser window down, the content resizes and relays out, and uses alternative layouts as appropriate.

          This is precisely what has made me hate "responsive design". When I resize my browser window, I never want the website layout to change because of it.

    • Re:Instead... (Score:5, Informative)

      by mjtaylor24601 ( 820998 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @10:29AM (#49519417)

      How about doing this ONLY when the person is using a mobile device?

      According to TFA (I know, I know, who reads the article)

      The change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide

    • uh yes. The article states that the Mobile searches will be affected. I read another article that pointed out searches from a PC will give different results (mobile weighting isn't as important in the rankings).

      By the sounds of it - you'll get different results depending upon the device used to search. Mobile search will favor mobile friendly results, PCs will favor...all of the crap worthy of being printed on the internet.

    • by MacTO ( 1161105 )

      The problem with that is Google needs to provide consistent results across all devices.

      Of of course, the real problem is that Google has a vested interest in mobile.

      • The problem with that is Google needs to provide consistent results across all devices.

        why should they need to do that?

      • The problem with that is Google needs to provide consistent results across all devices.

        Google long ago abandoned giving consistent results across anything. The days when "I'm third in the search for ..." had any meaning are long gone. Everyone gets different results.

    • That's what they are doing?

      We’re boosting the ranking of mobile-friendly pages on mobile search results.
      This update:
      Affects only search rankings on mobile devices
      Affects search results in all languages globally
      Applies to individual pages, not entire websites

      A whole bunch of ignorant nonsense of slashdot this morning.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @10:11AM (#49519207)

    I completely *dislike* mobile versions of sites. Too often they are crippled, difficult to navigate, lacking in detail, etc..

  • Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @10:11AM (#49519209) Homepage

    I can't tell you how often I have to tell my browser on my tablet to give me the real desktop site ... because most mobile sites are complete shit.

    Links don't work, you don't have the same information, the layout is terrible, and you can't find anything.

    In my experience and opinion, most mobile websites are written by morons, to satisfy a checkbox defined by marketing, and are generally pretty much useless.

    Since most phones run at the same resolution as a desktop ... WTF is the purpose of a badly written mobile site?

    • by Merk42 ( 1906718 )

      I can't tell you how often I have to tell my browser on my tablet to give me the real desktop site ... because most mobile sites are complete shit.

      Links don't work, you don't have the same information, the layout is terrible, and you can't find anything.

      In my experience and opinion, most mobile websites are written by morons, to satisfy a checkbox defined by marketing, and are generally pretty much useless.

      Which sounds like a badly done site, not because it's mobile. I'm all for feature parity.

      Since most phones run at the same resolution as a desktop ... WTF is the purpose of a badly written mobile site?

      While my ~5" phone has the same 1080p resolution as the ~23" monitor I'm typing this on, having it exactly on my phone like that would make copy too small and buttons incredibly difficult to press. Yes you could zoom in/out the desktop site, but that's not a good experience either. You're right to question the purpose to a badly written mobile site.

      • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @10:28AM (#49519413) Homepage

        The only time I have ever been aware of hitting a mobile site is when you have that "gah, WTF is this crap?" moment where you can't find anything and the link you followed has been swallowed by the crap which has said :"hey, you're on a mobile, how about we fail to show you what you were looking for?".

        As I said, on my tablet I'm constantly saying "request desktop site", because the mobile website is utterly useless. It's worse than useless, because it's just a redirect to a badly written website with crap content.

        I have yet to see a useful mobile website. And most places now are so damned focused on having their own damned app, which in many cases is not as useful as their website ... but, hey, it's an app so we're cool, right?

        In the mid 90's a friend said to me that "everything as the web" had put user interface design back by 20 years. Mobile websites and many apps seem hell bent on continuing to deliver shitty interfaces.

        For many many sites on my tablet, I don't care about your damned app (because you just want access to too much stuff on my phone and want to embed ads) ... honestly, I'm better off skipping the app and going to the actual website.

        I hope we reach "peak phone" soon, because for those of us who don't spend every waking moment with our cell phone, the shit which is focused around that is kind of tedious.

        • by dave420 ( 699308 )
          So you openly admit you might have visited countless mobile sites without even knowing, as you only notice the bad ones as being mobile sites. Your argument is quickly unravelling with every post...
        • by jdavidb ( 449077 )

          I hope we reach "peak phone" soon, because for those of us who don't spend every waking moment with our cell phone, the shit which is focused around that is kind of tedious.

          I'm waiting for that moment to pass, and then I will finally get a smart phone. My wife has a smart phone, but I'm the techie, and I still have a flip phone. It's $15, no contract, easily replaceable, and does everything that my first $250 flip phone did years ago. I'm thrilled with it.

      • In my experience and opinion, most mobile websites are written by morons, to satisfy a checkbox defined by marketing, and are generally pretty much useless.

        Which sounds like a badly done site, not because it's mobile. I'm all for feature parity.

        So you want websites to double their development costs and keep two parallel sites up to day? That will work for about a month, and they the bosses will say "Just make one site that works (badly) on everything."

        • by Merk42 ( 1906718 )

          So you want websites to double their development costs and keep two parallel sites up to day? That will work for about a month, and they the bosses will say "Just make one site that works (badly) on everything."

          No, they make one well done responsive site, with the same codebase.

    • by gQuigs ( 913879 )

      Or worse the mobile site just says "Here download our App!".

      Do not want.

    • by dave420 ( 699308 )
      And this change can serve to force those sites to get their acts together, as Google has frequently penalised sites for broken user experiences. If a company's mobile site is being returned as their search result, they will (if their marketing department knows what they're doing) do anything they can to get it higher. Mobile sites are designed with the other differences in the platforms in mind. Clearly it's more than just screen resolution - touch-compatible inputs & UI, reduced data usage by more u
    • Since most phones run at the same resolution as a desktop ... WTF is the purpose of a badly written mobile site?

      Even if your phone's resolution matches your desktop resolution, the display is much smaller. Text that would normally be viewable on a desktop is infinitesimally small on your phone. Sure, you can zoom it, but then you're changing the way the website works because you are viewing just a small part of the page through a magnifier.

      The real issue here is accessibility options for impaired users. Ev

    • by Jake73 ( 306340 )

      I've never wanted to dump all of my mod points from the last 10 yrs into a single post like I do now.

  • by sreever ( 3822799 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @10:16AM (#49519267)
    I want my search results to give relevant results, not what they think might be formatted best.... Besides, I still do most of my browsing on actual computer.
  • I think it is fake trend ,because normal person will not order dishwasher by mobile phone!
  • That's a counter productive parameter for me because I'm searching from my desktop 100% of the time.
  • Google's search service has always been my go-to service for many years (actually almost since I started reading slashdot, many years ago). All of their tweaks and enhancements, I felt could be justified. But this? This is not really a fair process. I can't see how this will benefit users to find the things they need on the web. As such I will be reconsidering the search engine I'm using in my firefox search widget. Duck Duck go these days seems pretty good.
  • by JoeyRox ( 2711699 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @10:32AM (#49519451)
    They made sense years ago when phones had much smaller, lower resolution displays, cellular latencies were much higher, and embedded processors were much slower (for HTML rendering). All that is in the rear-view mirror now.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @10:33AM (#49519471)

    See for example http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slashdot

  • Some sites out there are designed from the ground up to look great on pretty much anything with one version of the site. Will they be punished for their forethought and skill?

  • The summary says that Wikipedia does not have a mobile site. That isn't true. The BBC article [bbc.com] linked from TFA actually says:

    Sections of sites owned by the European Union, the BBC and Wikipedia currently fail the search giant's Mobile Friendly Test developer tool.

    I just tested the Wikipedia mobile site with their tool [google.com] and it says "Awesome! This page is mobile-friendly." However, if you feed it wikipedia.org instead of en.m.wikipedia.org it complains that the links are too close together, which is definitely not the case. Even the picture it shows of "How Googlebot sees the page" is quite clear.

  • Here is my issue with this. If you have a Google "webmaster" account, you've probably seen the "mobile friendly" reports. Everything on my site gets a good grade except... wait for it.... Google's Adsense and Maps JavaScript. It penalizes me for having "content blocking" JavaScript. It's their script. I can not load it "deferred" because it's on a different domain. I could dynamically load it but Google's TOS is very vague as to whether or not this is OK.
  • IMO, most mobile sites suck. They are more difficult to navigate & are many times missing required features. Watching my wife & son use an Ipad to try & order a phone on Verizon was painful. I logged Verizon on with my Surface & plugged in a mouse & a few clicks later the phone was ordered. That is just one example. With my phone, I try to request the desktop site but quite often I don't get it.

    Side note: Verizon sucks but my company gets a huge discount. And my wife still loves her Ipad, & I still like my Surface Pro.

  • So when googlebot visits, I'll send it some bullshit to satisfy it. Then continue to operate my website without really having to commit to mobile content.

  • by wbr1 ( 2538558 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @10:48AM (#49519617)
    1. The search results are only changing for non-mobile friendly devices IF the search originates from a mobile device, not for everyone.

    2. This has very little to do with ad revenue. Google is always tweaking the algorithms that feed the results page. This does not give any new precedence to paid advertisers at all.

    Basically they want you to bring your site into the 21st century. I see no real issue here. Responsive sites that are designed well (IE, not slashdot mobile), can be useful, and you can always request the full desktop site (if the site honors that request). Content and formatting do not exist independently of each other. Do you want some gopher sites in your search results?

    • by khchung ( 462899 )

      1. The search results are only changing for non-mobile friendly devices IF the search originates from a mobile device, not for everyone.

      Note to self: don't use Google on mobile devices, change their default search engine to DuckDuckGo.

      I search Google for sites with the best content relevant to what I am looking for, I don't give a flying f**k whether the site have a "mobile friendly" version or not. I can read any webpage on my phone just fine, I can zoom in/out when needed.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @10:53AM (#49519679)

    This move is clearly a discriminatory move under the Americans with Disabilities Act. With less than ideal vision i rely on the ability to zoom in when i don't have my eyeglasses handy and even sometimes when wearing them. Almost all mobile sites disable the pinch to zoom stuff and make my browser next to useless. Forcing this on the industry is like a large real estate agent saying that they will not list any homes with a ramp or shower handle bar in order to drive the market in that direction.

    posting ac because i function fairly normally and don't particularly like talking about this...but im sick and tired of these mobile sites being less usable.

  • The original google post [blogspot.co.nz] about this, which makes it clear that mobile friendly sites get a higher ranking when you search on mobile devices . This change will affect mobile searches. Mobile. Not desktop. So if you're searching from a mobile device then results that are more mobile friendly will be ranked higher, on the assumption that people searching from mobile devices would prefer mobile content.

  • by tuffy ( 10202 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @10:54AM (#49519713) Homepage Journal

    The whole point of HTML and CSS is that all this markup are suggestions to the client, who is free to rearrange elements, use different fonts or otherwise handle things differently for the benefit of the viewer. Making an entirely different, dumber, website for the benefit of some particular class of device defeats the purpose of a "world-wide web".

    Make the devices better, not the websites worse.

  • Google's Android browser and Chrome for Android and iPhone render plain old HTML 2.0 very badly, with tiny unreadable fonts. This is 100% Google's fault. Now they will punish us for their fault.

  • Look, I am just starting with HTML and CSS after several decades of C and shell scripting in order to create a new website fo the small company my son and I are starting. Him, being a young stud instead of an old fart like me, convinced me to start with a design that was "responsive" in NewSpeak. Basically, all that means is: establishing the viewport; determinging several sensible breakpoints at which certain styling elements change; establishing when, say, to transition from a standard horizontal ring men
    • Sorry to reply to myself, but I hit submit too soon. The last sentence should be ...drop your "tr" and "td" layout scheme...I was helping a friend on his older site and it was all hard-coded tr/td/styling intermingled with hard-coded colors, etc. I dumped the whole thing and redid it and it looks a lot better *and* is responsive.
  • GOOG has to be rather careful in what it does because it has an effective monopoly. _Anything_ that could be seen as anti-competitive, will be. So soon after the EU ruling, GOOG is just bating them.

  • What a bizarre thing for Google to do. When browsing on my mobile and redirected to a mobile version, the first thing I do is to try to get to the desktop version of the site - it's always, in my experience, easier to use on a mobile than a mobile site.
  • by cfalcon ( 779563 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @12:12PM (#49520463)

    Mobile versions are just excuses to stick static bullshit all over your phone, disable the basic UI features that makes the phones usable, and generally shit all over your mouth. Between Atomic and Chrome I mostly work around the fact that Safari will gleefully prevent me from using the few universal UI commands the phone offers, such as pinch-zoom, "yes scroll past the bottom so I can read the thing the ad is covering" and "zoom the fuck out, Jesus".

    On my desktop, I certainly don't give a shit about a site offering me a mobile hell, and neither does anyone else. On my phone, I don't view "has a shitfucked mobile version" as a feature, though others may disagree. Is there a way to turn this new "feature" off? Everyone will want it disabled for desktop, and for mobile, well, I'd love to opt out of all of that crap entirely.

    That and all the javascript that launches appstore are easily my pet peeves with browsing on my iphone. That can mostly be worked around by using Chrome, Atomic, or Mercury, but still, sheesh.

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