Google modifies the structure of URLs on mobile

This week Google made a change to the URL structure that is displayed normally from a mobile search, explaining that “well-structured URLs offer users a quick hint about the page topic and how the page fits within the website”. The algorithms were updated starting in the USin an effort to display names that would better reflect the page. This will structure the results using a breadcrumbs-like format, and use the “real-world name of the site” instead of the domain name. I checked search results on my mobile, but the change had not appeared to be made yet. Here is an example search Google used:

domain_replacement_before
domain_replacement_after

To complement the launch, Google also announced support for schema.org, a site that provides a collection of schemas that webmasters can use to markup HTML pages in ways recognized by major search engines. This intends to help webmasters signal both the website name that should be used instead of the domain name, as well as the URL structure as breadcrumbs.

Here are the examples Google pointed to in their documentation on site names and breadcrumbs.

The announcement garnered mixed reactions. While some people are calling the change helpful, arguing that the change encourages better site organization, others argue that by not displaying the actual URL, users no longer could easily verify the true identity of a site. What do you think about this interesting development?

 

Google adds mobile-friendliness as a part of their ranking algorithm

Tomorrow marks the official launch of Google’s new ranking algorithm, which will add mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. Although Google held a live Q&A hangout a month ago, it was somewhat unclear whether or not the changes could be seen before the official launch date on April 21st.

So how do you know if your page is mobile friendly? The easiest way to check if a page on your site passes is by typing in the URL here.

page-friendliness-testThis will test the way your site looks to a Googlebot. It checks for:

  • pages automatically sizing content to the screen
  • avoiding software that is uncommon on mobile devices
  • containing readable text without zooming
  • and placing links far enough apart to be selected easily

 

A few easy ways to see what your site looks like on an array of different devices, and to start making your site mobile-friendly, can be found in our responsive web design blog post.

 

Additional algorithm details to note include:

  • There are no degrees of mobile-friendliness; your page is either mobile-friendly or it isn’t. Google added that it will be the same with desktop search, and is not isolated to mobile searches.
  • The mobile-friendly ranking changes will affect your site on a page by page basis. So if half of your site’s pages are mobile-friendly, those half will benefit from the mobile friendly ranking changes. This is good news for anyone concerned that their site doesn’t make the cut, as they can focus on getting their main pages up to date first.
  • The new ranking algorithm will officially begin on April 21st. However, the algorithm runs in real-time, meaning you can start preparing your site for analysis now. It was said in the hangout that it may even take a week or so to completely roll out, so it’s not entirely clear how quick we can expect to see changes in site rankings.
  • Google News may not be ranked by the new mobile-friendly algorithm yet. Interestingly, the Google News ranking team has no plans on implementing the mobile-friendly algorithm into the Google News results.

Zuckerberg’s internet.org loses support, with companies siting net neutrality concerns

A facebook backed project intended to make the internet accessible for people in the developing world has lost the support of several prominent companies this week. In the midst of a fierce national debate regarding net neutrality, the New Delhi Television Limited (NDTV), the Times Group, a media company that owns Times of India, and Cleartrip, a travel website all removed content from Internet.org in India, which they had made available for free. Furthermore, the companies urged its competitors to withdraw as well.

“We support net neutrality because it creates a fair, level playing field for all companies – big and small – to produce the best service and offer it to consumers. We will lead the drive towards a neutral internet, but we need our fellow publishers and content providers to do so as well, so that the playing field continues to be level.” – statement from a Times official.

The companies sited concerns that the Internet.org initiative did not align with the net neutrality mission, arguing that Internet.org is set up to prioritize content from partner businesses who pay telecom companies for data charges.

Zuckerberg responded to critics, affirming that net neutrality and Internet.org “can and must coexist.” He detailed his stance on the controversy, proclaiming that “Internet.org doesn’t block or throttle any other services or create fast lanes — and it never will. We’re open for all mobile operators and we’re not stopping anyone from joining. We want as many internet providers to join so as many people as possible can be connected.”

The Internet.org initiative has reportedly expanded internet accesss to over six countries so far, including Columbia, India, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya and Ghana. Still, some worry that the long term net neutrality implications outweigh the immediate access it provides to the developing world.

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