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Google tweaks search algorithm to favor sites that look good on smartphone screens
A new tweak in Google's search algorithm has sent businesses scrambling to make their website mobile-friendly. WSJ's Rolfe Winkler reports. Photo: Getty
Google Inc. began shuffling its rankings for mobile websites Tuesday, potentially benefiting sites like job board Indeed.com and real-estate company Zillow Group Inc., and hurting others like retailer Zumiez Inc. and IRS.gov.
Google said it tweaked its algorithm for mobile searches to favor sites that look good on smartphone screens, and penalize sites with content that is too wide for a phone screen and text and links that are too small.
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Given Google’s importance in driving traffic to websites, some in the industry dubbed the change “mobilegeddon.” Google updates its algorithm frequently, but this is considered by some experts to be its most significant change in years. In an unprecedented move, Google warned website operators in February that the change was coming, and gave them tips on how to prepare.
“A lot of sites have been racing to beat the clock on this issue,” said Mark Ballard, director of research at Merkle RKG, a search-marketing firm.
The change is also important for Google. A company executive said at a conference last year that searches from mobile devices were poised to surpass searches on personal computers.