Bing’s Mobile Friendly Update

May 19, 2015

It’s been almost a month since Google’s Mobile Friendly rollout, prompting many businesses to update their sites to comply with Google’s mobile friendliness criteria. For those that haven’t yet climbed on board, there’s now even more motivation to do so: Bing has been rolling out a mobile-friendliness update of its own.

In November, Bing revealed that it was planning to put more focus on mobile in 2015, and the new update is clearly part of that strategy. The new focus is a clear response comScore data that predicts that the number of mobile users will surpass the number of desktop users this year.  It’s a trend that is not surprising, given the steady increase in mobile searches over the past few years.

While Bing’s update follows closely on the heels of Google’s update, it isn’t exactly a carbon copy. In fact, since it’s announcement in November, it has already begun rolling out some key features: giving preference to pages that are known to be mobile friendly, and avoiding pages that are known to have compatibility issues (such as videos that aren’t available on mobile devices or pages that rely on Flash).

So what’s next in this ongoing rollout?

Mobile-friendly tag

Mobile searchers are all too familiar with the struggle of trying to find mobile-friendly content in their searches; opening a page only to realize that it doesn’t work well on their device can be frustrating.  The mobile-friendly tag aims to reduce this frustration by tagging sites that are confirmed to work well on mobile devices.  Coupled with mobile-focused rankings for mobile searches, this can make it much easier for mobile users to find content that suits their device.

Mobile-friendly results

As with the Google update, more weight will be placed on mobile-friendly sites for searches conducted from  mobile devices while focusing on providing the most relevant results overall, but non-friendly sites won’t be directly penalized.  That shouldn’t be taken as a sign from Bing that it isn’t  necessary to optimize your site for mobile users; if all other factors are equal, a mobile friendly site will likely rank higher than one that isn’t, so updating your site could give it a valuable edge over your competitors.

What is Bing looking at?

Bing’s mobile-friendly criteria is similar to those used by Google: ease of navigation, readability, content width, and compatibility.  Links and buttons should not be located too closely together; if a user has to zoom or pinch in order to be able to click on elements, it weakens the user experience. While vertical scrolling is, of course, expected, horizontal scrolling is considered a weakness in mobile optimization. And if your site relies on specialized software and plugins to deliver content, such as Flash, or limits content to non-mobile users, you’re probably alienating a decent portion of your web traffic, and your Bing rankings may drop accordingly.

Next Steps

While Google still reigns as king of the search engines, there’s no doubt that Bing searches drive a fair amount of traffic, so it makes sense to ensure that your site meets their requirements, too.  And if that’s not reason enough, the fact that yet another major search engine is focusing on mobile search should send a clear message that mobile will play an important role in rankings going forward. Optimizing your site is often a fairly simple and straightforward process; if you’re ready to get your site up to speed, give us a call and we can analyze how your site matches up to the criteria and create a strategy for filling in the gaps.

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