Although we don’t know a lot of specifics about what goes into Google’s algorithm, we do know some important general information about its design. While past updates have stressed the recency of content, it’s freshness and its relevance, site security and local results, it is screen size adoption that is a newer element. Google has made clear that it is the user experience with a website that produces good or bad search engine result rankings. If the site and its content are designed for the human visitor, versus a bot, then the site is seen more favorably by Google. In keeping with the ever growing number of mobile users, Google has added more analysis of a site’s mobile-friendly characteristics to its algorithm, knowing that this trend will continue. Mobile users made up 55-60 percent of Internet usage in early 2014.

Rewarding the Mobile User
Recently, Google had indicated that websites that employed responsive web design, would have this factored into their ranking score within its algorithm. This feature greatly increases the usability and presentation of a site viewed on a mobile device’s smaller screen. But, Google has more recently hinted that there are other factors, including responsive design, that improve the mobile user experience, and thus the Google score for that site. Fonts that are easily read increases the user experience on a mobile device and the need to zoom in and out reduces the experience. Of course, features that allow sidebars to be easily accessible or that make menu usage easier both make the mobile experience more rewarding. If a site requires browser technologies that don’t work on a particular device, the user experience is diminished.

Great Content and Viewability
Frameworks that support these best-practices may be the best SEO in the end. The use of HTML5 in the construction of a site and easy access for Google’s bots are both encouraged. Google’s own studies have found that 61 percent of mobile users were less likely to return to a site that presented problems with readability or the need for excessive manipulation just to view the content. We have pointed out that Google likes good content. Good writing, and writing that rewards the site visitor, are elements that result in favorable SEO. It’s all about the user experience from desktop PC’s to smart phones. The webmaster/SEO who has the user experience in the forefront of their mind, and as a motivator for their site design, will be rewarded with the best search engine results (SERPs).

©2014 K Richard Douglas