Mobile-friendly searching

Google recently finished rolling out its ‘mobile-friendly algorithm boost’. This means that mobile-friendly websites appear higher up the search results if the user is searching on a mobile phone. Those that aren’t mobile-ready may find themselves slipping down the rankings.

Fri, 22 July 2016 | By Sue Weekes


Google recently finished rolling out its ‘mobile-friendly algorithm boost’. This means that mobile-friendly websites appear higher up the search results if the user is searching on a mobile phone. Those that aren’t mobile-ready may find themselves slipping down the rankings.

If your site is already mobile-friendly, then you’re in the clear. But according to Andy Drinkwater, search engine optimisation consultant and founder of, this is not the case for the majority of agencies. He originally tested more than 4,000 sites in 2015 and 65% of them were not mobile-friendly. In a more recent test, the figure was 59%.

Recruiters must ensure their site is mobile friendly, not just because of Google, but because almost half of job searches begin on mobile devices. While this may seem like your web design and service provider’s job, candidate experience is your responsibility and you need to find out how you perform in the mobile space and whether it can be improved.

What does Google want?

In short, Google wants to know that your website is optimised for the mobile device on which it is running. For most, taking a mobile responsive website design (RWD) route is the best solution as this adjusts the website’s design, size and other factors to run on the mobile device, whether it be smartphone or tablet (Google also recommends RWD).
It should provide the user with an optimal experience akin to that of the desktop and means they don’t have to excessively scroll around the site to find what they want. “If it doesn’t then you are throwing opportunities away,” says Drinkwater. “And [you’re] risking a drop in rankings.”

Chris Bogh, technical director of Eploy, urges recruiters to ask their developers to prioritise the mobile experience: “We think about the mobile experience first then progressively enhance to accommodate equally great experiences for tablet, laptop and desktop users.”

The need for speed
Individuals expect the mobile experience to be fast. Drinkwater also explains that if a person is out of the house and there is no Wi-Fi, they want to know they can browse a site that isn’t filled with huge images or hosted on a budget platform. Test the speed of your site at Google (see links below) and, if it is slow, talk to your developer to find out if a change of host may improve the experience. “There are changes that can be made to code that will help speed a site up a bit, but you will always be hampered by issues if your web host isn’t particularly fast,” says Drinkwater. Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool can also help identify where you can make your site faster in the mobile space.

Design attention
Look at all of the interaction points of your site in the mobile space, such as buttons and forms, and assess the user experience they provide. Remember they need to be “finger friendly” for touchscreen users, says Bogh, and also take advantage of the features of a phone. “It’s really easy to implement a ‘click to call’ button on the mobile view of your site,” he says.

Drinkwater advises that all click options should be clear and have a quick call-to-action.
“Pages shouldn’t be too long; no one wants a never-ending scroll,” he adds.

Make applying easy
The majority of people will not have their CV stored as a document on their smartphone or tablet but it may well reside in the cloud on Google Drive, OneDrive or Dropbox. “So it’s important your site allows candidates to easily upload their CV to you using their preferred cloud storage provider,” says Bogh. He adds that the mobile experience can be further improved by enabling candidates to login using their preferred social network account. “Plus, mobile users tend to be logged in all the time. So being able to log in to your site using a LinkedIn account, for example, means fewer clicks, faster form-filling and reduces the barriers for a mobile visitor applying to your jobs with you.”

Converting traffic

While you need to make sure Google views you as mobile-friendly, the discussion also needs to extend beyond SEO and take into account how you will convert traffic from your mobile site into candidates. “Find out how many visitors are actually ‘doing something’ on your site – like uploading their CV, filling in an application form or registering their profile with you,” says Bogh. “That’s why mobile optimised design is so important. You’ve got to remove all of those barriers that may dissuade someone converting from being just a website visitor to a customer.”

Find out how mobile-friendly you are

Google provides tools and guidelines to help you discover whether your site is mobile-friendly and how user experience could be improved. If you feel the site may be falling down in the mobile space, carry out some checks first using the below links before you meet with your web and services provider so you are more informed.

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