Google warns non mobile friendly sites

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– are you loosing your Google ranking because of a non mobile website?


Google sent out multiple warnings last week to websites that have “critical mobile usability errors”.


Even though these were just warnings and won’t necessarily mean that you get penalised, it may be high time to refresh your awareness of what makes for a mobile-friendly site and get a mobile plan before Google gets more serious about it and start to add more to the mobile ranking factor


Why is mobile so important to Google?

Over the recent years, it has become obvious that the multi-screen Web is the future (e.g. the average Internet user is using several devices to browse the web to complete a goal). For example, 65% of all search traffic is starting on a mobile device and 90% of users move between devices to accomplish a goal (which is mostly shopping)

That is frightening numbers in such a relatively short space of time since mobile friendly site design was first introduced.


Is mobile-friendliness affecting Google ranking?

Not yet, but no doubt it will. Google is heavily involved in motivating website owners to step up their mobile optimisation efforts.

For Google, nearly 50% of all traffic is now mobile Last holiday season, 22.5% of all online sales were conducted on mobile devices Over 80% of Americans second-screen using smartphones/tablets while watching TV 90% of users move between devices to accomplish a goal (which is mostly shopping)


* Google now labels mobile-optimized sites “mobile-friendly” in mobile SERPs (They did a similar thing in October 2014 with a grey icon indicating non-mobile friendly sites next to the URL)

* “Mobile-friendly” sites get a slight ranking boost (This is believed to be tested by Google now)

* Google have said that they are ready to downgrade sites misconfigured for smartphones


So, why wait? With all these signals coming straight from Google, it’s best to get a mobile strategy now — and stay ahead of the curve in the future!


What can you do?

  1. First learn where you are in terms of mobile readiness
  2. If you don’t have one, choose your mobile solution
  3. Follow best practices for mobile optimisation
  4. Mobile design mistakes you have to avoid


1 First learn where you are in terms of mobile readiness

Test your site using Google own mobile friendly site test

Your result will have one of two outcomes

You win


or you loose

If you fail the test move on to step 2


2 choose your mobile solution

For website owners this is Responsive Web Design (which is Googles recommended method). You have the same website displayed on all devices as the page adapts the layout to each device

Separate website Mobile users are redirected to a dedicated mobile site. Drawback is that you have to maintain two separate sites

Get an App A separate application is created for mobile users. This is often the best solution if a lot of functionality takes place on the device itself


3 Follow best practices for mobile optimisation

To get the ‘Mobile Friendly’ label next to your site in mobile search result you should consider the following.

  • Avoid software that is not used, or compatible on a mobile (e.g Adobe Flash)
  • Your text should be readable without zooming
  • The page displays so that the user will not have to zoom or scroll horizontally
  • Links are thumb friendly. The links should be big enough and spaced far enough apart to aid tapping.


4 Mobile design mistakes you have to avoid

  • Do not block JavaScript, CSS or image files
    Google has long advised SEOs against blocking these asserts (let’s say, in robots.txt), as this may result in poorer rankings for your mobile as well as your desktop site. To make sure these are not blocked, perform the  Fetch as Googletest in Google Webmaster Tools.  Learn more
  • Avoid putting up unplayable content
    Mobile browsers may have problem with license-restricted content or content that requires Flash or an uncommon player to be installed. It’s best to avoid these to improve mobile user experience.  Learn more
  • Watch out for mobile-only 404s (Page not found)
    Sometimes a page that loads perfectly fine on desktop returns a 404 on mobile. The best practices are to ensure the respective mobile page is not a 404 and to always redirect mobile users to mobile equivalents of your desktop pages.  Learn more
  • Check for irrelevant cross-links
    If you use a separate mobile site, check its internal links for consistency. Make sure those internal links go to mobile-optimized pages, not to their desktop counterparts (such as your desktop-optimized homepage, for example).  Learn more
  • Make sure your page isn’t too slow
    Speed is a crucial factor on mobile (in part because mobile browsers can’t handle bulky pages as effortlessly as desktop browsers). Hence,  test the speed of your sitefor mobile users and improve on it, if necessary. Learn more


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