Microsoft said Thursday its Bing search engine would be reconfigured to give more prominence to "mobile-friendly" websites, an acknowledgment of the growing importance of smartphones and other mobile devices.
The announcement comes just weeks after Google implemented a similar shift. The moves by the two search engines could have big implications for website operators, advertisers and for those who seek to optimize search rankings.
"Based on data from user's interaction with Bing, we have seen that mobile users are able to satisfy their information needs much faster on searches that return more mobile-friendly results," said Microsoft's Shyam Jayasankar in a blog post.
"With that in mind, we will be rolling out mobile friendliness as a signal in ranking."
Microsoft said however that mobile friendliness would be just one of the factors considered when displaying search results.
"This means that for mobile searches on Bing, you can always expect to see the most relevant results for a search query ranked higher, even if some of them are not mobile-friendly," said Jayasankar.
He said pages that are highly relevant to a search will not get penalized even as mobile-friendly pages get a boost.
"This is a fine balance and getting it right took a few iterations, but we believe we are now close," Jayasankar said.
He said the changes are expected "in the coming months."
More than half of Internet searches worldwide are estimated to be made on mobile phones, a trend that is driven by developing countries where smartphone use is higher than that of computers.