Google Wants You to Have a Mobile-Friendly Website or Else

Google Wants You to Have a Mobile-Friendly Website or Else

17 Dec 2014 Toby Shaw

Have you visited a website on your phone only to find yourself pinching to zoom in, pressing on things that do not work, and tapping videos that fail to load? Chances are you’ve experienced what your website visitors go through right now and Google hates it.

Your website visitors are not the only people who care if your website works on their smartphone. Google also care enough having conducted research that mobile-friendly websites contribute greatly to a user’s happiness. So now Google displays in search results whether your website and mobile devices are friends:

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This means if your website fails to pass Google’s mobile requirements, people will be less likely to even visit your site from their mobile when browsing search results and go straight to a competitor. And let me estimate for you having looked through the analytics of over 20 sites, this affects 10% of your website visitors.

It doesn’t stop at users clicking through. For 12 months we’ve been advising clients to get a mobile-friendly website to boost bookings and help their site appear on the first page of Google. Usability has been a key ranking factor in Google’s algorithms for a long time - now it’s more transparent for mobile devices given their emphasis on mobile usability.

What do you need to check to ensure your website has the best chances of ranking high for mobile search queries? Here are my action steps:

The Mobile-Friendly Test

Run your website through the new Mobile-Friendly Test. Here's a client of ours:

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If your site passes, it will likely have the “Mobile-friendly” text next to it in search results. If your site fails the test, you will get areas for improvement:

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If you're not a website designer or developer, you'll need an expert to make these improvements.

Check Google Webmaster Tools

There's a new section in Google Webmaster Tools called "Mobile usability". Much like its sitemap or schema errors, you'll see mobile usability issues with a neat summary of what pages they occur on:

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This provides a more comprehensive check and ongoing monitoring of mobile issues throughout your site.

What to Avoid

Most common errors we see of client's old sites when developing their new sites and implementing their search-engine optimisation include:

  • Small font size
  • Elements that users interact with are too near each other
  • Flash. Don't use the technology if you want people to use your site
  • No formatting of content to its viewport
  • Slow pages

Less common errors include:

  • Mobile or desktop redirects that point to a generalised URL like the home page rather than the specific and appropriate page
  • Cross links where a mobile user clicks a link then gets taken to the desktop version of the website

Get your site optimised for mobile and you will likely get more visitors from better rankings and bookings from the improved user experience. If you'd like your site optimised for mobile devices and Google to get more direct bookings, contact us.

About Toby Shaw

Toby specialises in SEO and SEM, especially with a data-driven flavour. He is from the UK, and previous to moving to Queensland worked for the SEO platform Linkdex for 5 years as an Insights Analyst and Data Scientist. Toby has completed a Bachelor’s from Imperial College London with a degree in Materials Engineering. When he isn’t at work, Toby is a keen cellist and cyclist, as well as a fan of Everton FC.

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