Google’s Mobilegeddon will ding some Bay Area services

Some of Silicon Valley’s important public services, including Caltrain, SamTrans and the VTA, have not caught up to the smartphone era and could be harder to find online tomorrow when Google begins altering its search results to favor mobile-friendly websites.

Among the agencies and companies that are unlikely to survive Tuesday’s Mobilegeddon are three of Silicon Valley’s most important public transit agencies: Caltrain, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority and San Mateo County Transit. Others that failed were Marin County, the East Bay Municipal Utility District and the Bay Area branch of Texas-based trash haulers Waste Management. We checked all of them through Google’s mobile-friendly test. SamTrans, for instance, failed on four different metrics: the homepage for the bus and commuter train agency has text that is too small to read on mobile devices, the links are too close together, the mobile view-port is not set and the content is wider than the screen.

Update: Some agencies have separate sites for mobile users in addition to their desktop Web portals. Alameda County’s homepage, for instance, failed the mobile-friendly test but the county has a separate mobile site.

“As more people use mobile devices to access the Internet, our algorithms have to adapt to these usage patterns,” Google said in a February blog statement that warned about the changes coming on April 21.

That means that, as the AP reported a few days ago, “websites that don’t fit the description will be demoted in Google’s search results on smartphones while those meeting the criteria will be more likely to appear at the top of the rankings.”

The Bay Area’s three biggest cities — San Jose, San Francisco and Oakland — passed the test with flying colors, as did transit agencies BART and AC Transit and the website of Santa Clara County. So did some private utility companies, such as PG&E.

Above: A VTA light rail train stops along S. 2nd Street in downtown San Jose in January. The website for the VTA is not mobile-friendly enough for Google’s new search formula, according to Google Developers. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)


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  • sdsd99

    They failed the mobile test? Whatever happened to asking the users? Mobile, responsive, tablet designs of today are pieces garbage. I try to use “the mobile web” everyday and it’s a pile of usability garbage. Information density is dead. User feedback is dead. Being able to shrink text size without shrinking the entire viewport is dying and will be dead soon. The mobile web is a usability failure.