Google has been concerned with the user experience of web sites people reach from its search results for some years now. Beginning on April 21st they will begin rolling out a Mobile-Friendly Algorithm that will impact the rankings of more web pages than any Google algorithm update in years!
Google has been talking about mobile friendless for some time so it should come as no surprise that Google is making it a ranking factor. After this Mobile-Friendly Algorithm is in place rankings for web pages that Google determines are not mobile friendly will be significantly impacted.
Mobile-Friendly Label in Search Results
Google has also been letting users know if a web page in its search results is mobile friendly by adding a “Mobile-Friendly” label to the search results.
When is a page Mobile Friendly?
A page is eligible for the “mobile-friendly” label, Google says, if it meets the following criteria as detected by Googlebot (its web crawler) –
- Avoids software that is not common on mobile devices, like Flash
- Uses text that is readable without zooming
- Sizes content to the screen so users don’t have to scroll horizontally or zoom
- Places links far enough apart so that the correct one can be easily tapped
Warning Messages From Google
If you have a Google Webmaster Tools account you may have gotten one or more messages from Google stating the following –
“Google systems have tested XXX pages from your site and found that XX% of them have critical mobile usability errors. The errors on these pages severely affect how mobile users are able to experience your website. These pages will not be seen as mobile-friendly by Google Search, and will therefore be displayed and ranked appropriately for smartphone users.”
If smart phone traffic is a significant percentage of your organic search traffic and you’ve gotten messages like this from Google hopefully you worked to fix the uses. If not time is running out.
If you don’t fix the issues in time and your organic traffic from mobile devices declines significantly after about April 21st (Google says it will take less than a week for this update to roll out) you’ll know you have work to do.
You can keep an eye on your organic traffic from mobile devices in Google Analytics; track your organic rankings, impressions and clicks from mobile devices in Google’s Webmaster Tools; and if you run search ads in Google’s AdWords you can track impressions, clicks, conversions etc from mobile devices in the AdWords interface.
Tools & Info from Google
If you want to make sure that your page meets Google’s mobile-friendly criteria here are some tools and information from Google:
- Google’s guide to mobile friendly web sites
- You can check your pages with the Mobile-Friendly Test
- Read Google’s updated documentation on their Webmasters Mobile Guide on how to create and improve your mobile site
- See the Mobile usability report in Google Webmaster Tools, which highlights major mobile usability issues across your entire site, not just one page
- Check Google’s how-to guide for third-party software like WordPress or Joomla, in order to migrate your website hosted on a CMS (Content Management System) to use a mobile-friendly template
Google Videos on Mobile Web Sites and Mobile-friendliness
A Google Video Q&A session for the mobile-friendly ranking change (1 Hour Long)
Google Webmasters 4-part video on the “Basics of a mobile website for SMBs” –
Part 1 – Learn the Tools
Part 2 – Bring it in: Viewports, zoom and plugins
Part 3 – Focus on the user: Tap targets, margins and font sizes
Part 4 – Set it right: Redirects and canonicals