Warning: Is your website mobile-friendly?


Google have warned that ‘mobile-friendliness’ will become a ranking signal for search results.  This means we need to make sure our sites are compliant or we could face a significant drop in position. It’s unusual for Google to announce dates for algorithm changes, they also warned it will make a “significant impact” so this is not one to ignore.

Why are Google making these changes?

Google wants to improve the mobile search results for users.  Have you ever looked at a website on your mobile only to find the text too small, the links tiny or you had to scroll sideways to see all the content?  It doesn’t look good.  Google is striving to create a superior user experience for its audience and who can blame them when rapidly increasing numbers are viewing the internet via mobile devices now.

The main aim is to provide users with relevant, high quality search results, optimised for their device.

What does this mean in terms of your website?

Mobile-friendly sites will get a boost in rankings, on the flip side any sites not optimised for mobile may well suffer.

In November 2014, Google added a ‘mobile-friendly label’ to search results for sites which conformed to their criteria.  At that time they mentioned experimenting with a ranking signal and it is this algorithm changes which is now imminent.  The aim of the label is to let users know that the site will be easily accessible on a mobile which could see users choosing to only view mobile-friendly pages.

Googles says: “We’ve made it easier for users to find mobile-friendly web pages and we’ve introduced App indexing to surface useful content from apps.”

What should a website have to be mobile-friendly?

  • text which is readable without zooming
  • content that sizes to the screen so that users do not have to scroll horizontally or zoom
  • links that are set far enough apart so that they can be tapped easily
  • Viewport – a critical meta-tag for mobile pages
  • only compatible plug-ins
  • any customised themes used will need to be mobile-friendly

What to do

If you haven’t already, view your website from a mobile device and check how user friendly the format is.  Google has a mobile-friendly test tool here.  Enter the URL for your web pages, Google will analyse them and test if they have a mobile-friendly design.

If a URL fails the test, you’ll get reasons why the page isn’t mobile-friendly, as well as info about how Googlebot sees it and resources to help you fix issues.

Google provides guides to follow to make your site mobile-friendly, depending on which software has been used to create your site, Joomla, WordPress etc.  Have a look at these issues in Webmaster tools or speak to your website provider to see how they can be resolved, it may just need tweaks to the template.  However, if your software is one not commonly used on mobile devices such as Flash for example you may be looking at needing significant changes.

If you have a mobile app:

Take a look at this App Indexing for Google Search.

Barcelona has been host to the Mobile World Congress where technology providers, mobile operators and industry leaders from across the globe, come together to showcase and discuss innovations and predictions within the mobile field.  The almost overwhelming outcome indicates that rapidly increasing volumes of business are set to be conducted via mobile devices, forward thinking businesses will need to adapt to this market to stay ahead.

Having a mobile-friendly site will not only mean being rewarded by Google in search rankings but ensure your business is optimised for all web traffic and provides a good user experience for your future customers.