Bing, too, says mobile friendliness matters
May 21, 2015 04:21 PM
On the heels of Google’s mobile-friendly algorithm update, Microsoft’s search engine Bing has announced it, too, will factor into how it ranks websites in organic search results how easy a site is to view and navigate on a smartphone.
Unlike Google’s hard deadline of April 21 for retailers to serve mobile consumers effectively, Bing says in its webmaster blog that it will start using mobile friendliness as a rank factor in coming months. Bing is just starting to roll out mobile-friendly tags, which appear below each search link and before the description in smartphone search results.
“This is definitely a, ‘me too’ moment for Bing,” says Tim Kilroy, CEO of search marketing technology vendor AdChemix.
Google gave a two-month warning before the algorithm change, giving retailers time to revamp their site for easy viewing on smartphones. Some observers said the advance warning was a sign that Google believed the change would have a big impact on search results that appear on smartphones. E-retailers such as Bodybuilding.com and BrianGavinDiamonds.com prioritized making their sites as mobile-optimized as possible before Google’s rollout to avoid getting penalized.
Since many retailers got the wake-up call about the importance of mobile friendliness from Google, Bing’s announcement is not of much significance, Kilroy says. He also points out that smartphone traffic referred to websites from Bing is low. 3.6% of organic search traffic from U.S. smartphone web users comes from Bing, according to Q1 2015 data from search and digital marketing agency Merkle/RKG.
Danny Gavin, director of marketing at jewelry retailer BrianGavinDiamonds.com, says 1% of its traffic come from Bing organic searches, and of traffic from search engines Bing accounts for 3%.
“It doesn’t make much of a difference,” Gavin says about Bing’s smartphone algorithm change.
When Google made its announcement, Brian Gavin Diamonds started tweaking all of its pages to make sure each was mobile friendly by Google’s standards. By April 21, the jeweler still had about 60-80 pages, out of its 10,000 pages, that would not pass muster.
That may have had an impact on its rank on mobile search results on Google. BrianGavinDiamonds.com’s average rank position in Google results for select search terms two weeks before April 21 was 6.9, and two weeks after April 21 was 8.4, Gavin says. That translates into 24 clicks the e-retailer didn’t get in that time period, Gavin says.
Despite its minimal impact in the wake of Google’s move, retailers should still be aware Bing’s changes going on, says Brian Klais, founder and president at Pure Oxygen Labs LLC, a mobile marketing and mobile search engine optimization firm.
“Clearly, this is another proof point-that mobile-friendliness matters going forward,” he says.
Google and SEO experts are unsure how much weight mobile ease of use holds in Google’s algorithm, as some general search queries will still display nonmobile friendly results high in the ranking if they are a good fit. Bing explicitly stated in its blog that mobile friendliness will not trump relevance to a search query.
What makes a web site mobile friendly? Bing details the following factors as most important: navigation—meaning the menus, buttons and links are large enough and spaced far enough apart for a consumer to touch; readability—the text on the page should be legible without zooming; scrolling—the website should fit the width of the device and not require horizontal scrolling; and compatibility—all the content on the page should work and retailers should eliminate items that often crash, such as Flash video, which is the file format for Adobe’s Internet video player.
If retailers paid attention and followed Google’s guidance about its algorithm change, they should be fine for this update, Kilroy says. Klais agrees, saying retailers should optimize their sites for Google’s standards and enjoy better Bing visibility as a bonus.
“Whatever you are going to do for Google is going to work well enough for Bing,” Kilroy says.
Follow mobile business journalist April Dahlquist, associate editor, mobile, at Internet Retailer, at @MobileStrat360A.
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