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Internet users are increasingly turning to their smartphones and tablets as their preferred devices for Web browsing, and search engine giant Google is making sure that webmasters and online marketers are paying attention to this paradigm shift. Back in November 2011, Google unveiled a new website created to raise awareness among Web professionals about the best practices to follow when adapting to the mobile world.
Another sign that Google is taking mobile Web usage very seriously has been spotted recently by smartphone users. When conducting a Google search on a mobile browser, a new icon resembling a smartphone will prompt searcher to click on a page that is optimized for their device. This could mean that Google is adding a new ranking factor in its coveted Search Engine Results Page (SERP), this time rewarding mobile-friendly sites with an icon and higher placement.
This is not the first time that Google guides users to sites that promise an optimized mobile experience. A similar icon has been previously used for users of cell phones equipped with early mobile browsers. By switching the icon to a smartphone, Google is more than just keeping up with the times; the company reported that users who browse a site that is not optimized for smartphones will probably never return to that site.
The importance of mobile SERP ranking should be in the minds of all Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and online marketing professionals. A smartphone user searching for workers compensation attorneys in their area, for example, will see top results for sites that are optimized for interaction on his or her iPhone or Android-powered device. These sites will have the coveted smartphone icon while the others will be listed at the bottom.
Some of the best mobile practices that Google is promoting include click-to-call icons, making the site layout thumb-friendly, keeping online forms short, and writing engaging copy that gets the point across in small screens. Law firms that are interested in higher mobile SERP ranking should look into these practices to earn a Google smartphone icon next to their listing.