Test your website for Google’s new mobile-friendly algorithm

By Dane Troup
User Interface Designer, former Fynyddian

Regardless of Where We Find Ourselves We Can't Put Down Our Mobile Devices

You may not have to look up to know when you last looked at your phone. People of all ages and backgrounds are so engrossed with their phones that they ignore everyone around them. We’ve all been there: those days when you’re waiting in line or taking the bus or on a break at work, whipping out your phone is so natural that it’s almost thoughtless. We don’t think about the world around us when we’re in the bubble of our apps, texts, games and online content.

So Why Do So Many Sites Look Terrible on Mobile?

The World Wide Web, as of this writing, is 26 years old. The multi-touch smartphone is only 8 years old. That means there is 18 years of content, that could still be around, which never considered smartphone users. Even today a lot of designers and developers are stuck in an old mindset of creating websites for larger laptop and desktop computers. This can be very damaging to a business considering, in 2014, mobile web traffic surpassed PCs for the first time ever.

Google Expects Web Pages to Be Mobile-Friendly or They Will Be Penalized in Search Rankings

Google recently announced that starting April 21st, 2015, they will be expanding the rankings in search results to favor websites and pages that are "mobile-friendly". This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.

"I think it should be a shake-up for mobile," said Collin Colburn, an analyst with Forrester. "Google does change its algorithm quite frequently, but this is a bit of a larger change... Websites that are not designed [with mobile in mind] will take a hit and websites that are responsively designed will begin to rise in search results."

How to Test Your Site

To get help with making a mobile-friendly site, check out Googles guide to mobile-friendly sites. If you currently have a site and are not sure if it is mobile-friendly, use one of the following tools to see how Googlebot views your pages:

Mobile-Friendly Test

Mobile-Friendly Test- This will allow you to test web pages to see how they appear on mobile in Google's view, and you will get a green notification bar if it is.

Mobile Usability Report
If you have a site, you can use your Webmaster Tools account to get a full list of mobile usability issues across your site using the Mobile Usability Report.

Other Mobile Considerations

Any time you’re looking to make major changes to your website, you should use it as an opportunity to implement all the other little improvements that may have been on your list for a while.

  • Clean and efficient design
    Is the design current and is the navigation easy to use for efficient task completion?
  • Is your site optimized for local search?
    Start adding location-based keywords (think City/neighborhoods) to your content to improve your mobile rankings even further.
  • How quickly does your site load?
    Not only an important factor for user experience (especially on mobile devices) but also a ranking factor (Google PageSpeed insights).
  • Is your contact and location information easy to find?
    When searching from their phones, many people are looking for directions or to get in touch.
  • “Click to call” access to phone the business
    This can easily be done with the proper HTML tag.

If you have questions about mobile-friendly websites or how to strategize for mobile users, we’re always happy to help.

Article last updated on 4/21/2018