On April 21st 2015 Google updated their search algorithms to increase the importance of mobile friendliness as a factor when ranking web pages.
What does this mean?
This means that for every web page that Google display in their results they will take into consideration how mobile friendly the page is – how it appears on a mobile phone or tablet device, how easy it is to use and how legible – and move the position of the page within the results in relation to the score that it receives.
Why is this so important for website owners?
This is extremely important for all website owners. First of all its highlighting something that was already important before April 21st 2015 – having a website that is not easy to use and compatible with mobile devices is pretty detrimental to your mobile visitors and therefor your site in general so the reality is that its something everyone should have considered a long time before April 21st. Post April 21st it is even more important because now it will directly affect your search engine positions and therefor your traffic and ultimately your online conversions if your site is not mobile friendly.
how do you check if its mobile friendly?
Rather than waiting to see your site plummeting in the search results it is advisable to be proactive here and check the mobile friendliness of your website so that you can make any changes necessary and therefor preserve your search engine positions.
This is actually an opportunity to rise in the search results and outdo the competition because there will undoubtedly be lots of sites that don’t act which by default leaves some higher search positions available for the taking.
Google do have a tool available to test the mobile friendliness of any web page, and its worth mentioning here that it is a page level update so it is judged on a per page basis although if your site has a constant layout and well built design framework updating the core design should automatically correct all pages on your site.
The problem with the Google mobile friendliness checking tool is that it does not give very much information at all other than the result of the test. This means that if your page fails the test you have very little indication of what needs to be changed or even by how much it failed and even if it passes you have no idea whether it was a close call or whether there are things that could still be improved – ultimately improving the user experience of the page.
A better way to check if your site is mobile friendly?
Of course theres always a better way to do things than the obvious and we have found the best way to check if your website is mobile friendly. Our finding comes in the form of a free online tool and also a chrome extension. Made by Kostas Voudouris and Adam Whittles the tools have been designed with the specific purpose of testing a page for mobile friendliness.
We tested the Bulk Google Mobile-Friendly Checker first which is an online tool that can check a single page or a big list of pages and will return several key pieces of information about each page including whether or not it passed the mobile friendly test as well as the scores in each key part of the test which includes Viewport Configuration, Font Legibility, Use of Incompatible Plugins, Content to Viewport and the Size and Proximity of Links. In addition the tool also provides some information on the number of resources that the page requests whilst loading which is also a factor in the mobile compatibility test.
The plugin for Google Chrome also performs a similar check in order to confirm whether your site is mobile friendly but is more targeted towards convenience as it makes it very easy to check the page that you are currently accessing in chrome rather than having to copy and paste URLs into another page or tool.
How can I make by website mobile friendly if its not already?
Of course there is a chance that your page or your entire site may fail the mobile friendly test. If this is the case then the points that it failed on must be rectified. Both of the tools listed above will provide scoring information on each factor that the test measures. This information can be used to rectify the problems and make the site mobile friendly.
The corrections tend to require access to the websites code or design elements such as the page templates and CSS styling sheets so if you are not comfortable editing these elements you would need to hire professional help to undertake the corrections.
Configuring the viewport of your website can be achieved with a simple edition in the header of the site and Google provide instructions for doing so on their website. Other improvements tend to include increasing the size of fonts and links in mobile browsers which can be done using modified versions of your existing stylesheets that are called only when mobile devices are used. Incompatible plugins can be disabled or replaced with mobile friendly versions.