Bad news for some dot-govs: Google will now rank websites based on their mobile friendliness.
Mobilegeddon won't leave federal websites unscathed.
Google’s newly implemented policy to adjust mobile search rankings based on a website’s mobile friendliness could leave some federal websites on a Google search engine’s dreaded second page -- at least when users search from a smartphone.
The new policy went into effect Tuesday. Google has provided Mobile-Friendly Test to help webmasters determine if their sites will suffer in the new rankings. Of the 28 agency websites Nextgov tested, more than half were deemed mobile friendly.
While the new policy will not affect a website’s ranking on a computer or tablet, it will influence searches on mobile devices. Almost 25 percent of federal website traffic comes from mobile devices, according to the federal government's analytics site.
GSA declined to comment on Google’s new policy and how it could affect federal websites. The agency directed Nextgov to a March 15 DigitalGov blog post about the importance of mobile-friendly websites.
Using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test, Nextgov tested 24 of the largest agency websites, along with a couple other high-impact federal sites and services, such as the websites for the White House, the Internal Revenue Service and Weather.gov.
All told, 11 of those sites were deemed “not mobile friendly” by Google for various reasons, including: too-small text; links that were too close together; content that extended beyond the width of a mobile screen; and not having a mobile viewport set, which makes sure site content renders nicely on a mobile screen.
These sites included:
On the flip side, here were the agency sites that got Google’s mobile seal of approval as being mobile optimized:
- DOI.gov (Interior)
- DOL.gov (Labor)
- Ed.gov (Education)
Federal websites' lack of mobile friendliness shouldn't come as too much of a surprise. A Government Accountability Office report released in January determined that thousands of federal websites aren’t designed to fully accommodate a small mobile screen.
Three years ago, the Obama administration's Digital Government Strategy called on agencies to identify at least two or more services they could make mobile friendly.
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