Bing is expected to roll out a mobile-friendly update to the algorithm it uses to rank websites in the upcoming weeks. We still don’t know exactly how this will impact search results, but the Microsoft-owned search engine said it will improve the rankings for websites that are compatible on smartphones and tablets.
“Mobile-friendly” is a term that we’re hearing more and more of as late. Google recently launched its own mobile-friendly algorithm update, affecting a small but noticeable percent of indexed website. And Bing actually drew attention to the importance of mobile-friendliness back in November 2014, in which it described plans to better understand mobile Internet functionality. This is the first time, however, that we’ve heard of Bing using mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal, attesting to its importance.
As noted on the official Bing blog, the Microsoft-owned search engine has started using mobile-friendly tags to denote sites that are compatible on smartphones and tablets. The next time you perform a Bing search on your smartphone or tablet, look for this tag immediately before the description. If you see a tag saying “Mobile-Friendly,” you can rest assured knowing the website is compatible on mobile devices.
Bing will also be using mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal, meaning websites that are compatible on mobile devices will receive a slight boost in their Bing ranking. Currently, however, this is a lightweight ranking signal, with content quality and relevance holding far more weight.
“Our approach to mobile friendliness as a ranking signal balances the need to improve the ranking for mobile-friendly pages, with the continued focus on delivering the most relevant results for a given query. This means that for mobile searches on Bing, you can always expect to see the most relevant results for a search query ranked higher, even if some of them are not mobile-friendly,” wrote Shyam Jayasankar of Bing’s Mobile Relevance Team. “While the changes will improve ranking for mobile-friendly pages, webpages that are highly relevant to the given query that are not yet mobile-friendly will not get penalized.
So, how does Bing determine whether or not a website is mobile-friendly? The company claims it uses four factors to base a website’s mobile-friendliness (or lack thereof): readability, navigation, scrolling and compatibility. You can read more about these factors and just how much of a role they play in Bing’s ranking algorithm by visiting http://blogs.bing.com/webmaster/2015/05/14/our-approach-to-mobile-friendly-search/.