Google’s Mobilegeddan has arrived, and the threat that if your site is not “mobile-friendly” you’ll be punished is real. Well, sort of real. Well, the blogosphere is arguing about how real it is. Well, maybe Google delayed some aspects of Mobilegeddan but it’s coming, soon, and it will be real.
Leaving aside the dribble of the blogosphere, it’s pretty clear that sooner or later (and sooner rather than later), we’re all going to need “mobile-friendly” websites. Is your site mobile friendly? If so, how friendly? If not, how unfriendly? Here are some resources, tools, and thoughts on becoming mobile-friendly with your small business websites.
Video Explanation: Tools to Find out How Mobile-Friendly Your Website Truly Is
Click to watch Mobile Friendly Website Design: Tools Resources & Thoughts
Tools to Test How Mobile-Friendly You Really Are
- Resource No. 1: Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. If you haven’t already, go to this site and submit your website. Google will give you a score, and also tips on what to do to “improve” that score. If you fail, begin to panic NOW. If you pass, great. If you have an excellent rating… sigh of relief.
- Resource No. 2: Google PageSpeed Insights. You may be “mobile-friendly” but still slow. Go to this official Google tool and rate your speed. It breaks your metrics down into desktop and mobile.
- Resource No. 3: Google Analytics. Log into your Google Analytics account, and on the left column, click Audience > Mobile > Overview. This will tell you what percent of your traffic is coming from mobile phones and, therefore, how truly important mobile is to your business. Note that you can compare the “bounce rate” across devices, telling you how much real people respond to your mobile site (in a positive or negative way).
- Resource No. 4: Google Webmaster Tools. Log into your Webmaster tools account. Click on the left column, search traffic > mobile usability. Again, Google will give you a “laundry list” of things to fix on your website in terms of being mobile-friendly.
- Resource No 5: Online Phone Simulator. Here, you can a) go to Google.com, b) enter relevant search keywords, c) check your rank, and d) view your site “as if” you were looking at it on different devices. This is a great way to check your mobile rank, and to see your site on various mobile devices (e.g., Apple iPhone vs. Samsung Android phones).
Resources on Mobile-Friendly Web Design
Now, let’s assume you are not very mobile friendly. Yikes! You need to get mobile friendly fast. Here are some resource to learn more about the whole “mobile friendly” thing.
- Google’s Mobile Friendly Guide. Here is the Google gospel on how to get mobile-friendly, with pointers to useful resources. And here is the official blog post, innocuously entitled, “Finding more mobile-friendly search results,” which announced the April 21, 2015, Mobilegeddan update. Also there’s a deck, here, that has a run-down of Google’s advise on Going Mobile.
- Building Your Mobile-Friendly Site. Here is a “goto” article by Distilled on how to build a mobile-friendly site and here is a WordPress.com article on the same topic. And here is a Search Engine Land FAQ on going mobile.
- Responsive Themes on WordPress. If you are on WordPress, you’re in luck – you just need a responsive theme. If you’re not on WordPress, you can either a) migrate to WordPress, or b) nag your developer and tell him or her you need a “responsive” CMS immediately. Here is a Wikipedia article, explaining responsive website design. And here are Joomla responsive themes and Drupal responsive themes.
Thoughts on Mobile-Friendly Web Design: Where is this all Going?
It’s anyone’s guess as to what’s going on in the mind of Google. As a Google watcher, I believe as follows. First, Google has made it very clear that they want to be a “mobile first” company, so the long term trend is that they are going to “judge” you based on how your website performs on mobile devices. So sooner rather than later, you better become mobile-friendly and start measuring how mobile friendly you truly are. Second, Google is pretty lazy in my opinion. So the idea that they will run one algorithm for the desktop and another for mobile… that just isn’t the historical pattern. So even if your traffic isn’t coming from mobile, my guess is you will get penalized nonetheless. Google is terrified of Facebook on mobile, and they don’t care if your site is mainly a desktop site. So go mobile even if your customers are not all on mobile! Third, become device-agnostic. The Internet device landscape is fragmenting: different types of monitors, tablets (many types, both Android and iOS, many types of phones)… So you’re site should be responsive and look great across all devices. Fourth, pay attention to your site speed. Mobile devices still access the Web over much slower connections than wired desktop computers, so even if your site is mobile-friendly, it had better be fast.
Oh, and finally, on the mobile device SEO is harder than ever, as the advertising crowds out the natural results. In many cases, all you see easily are a) the ads and b) the Google+ Local (Google My Business) results. So (GASP!) if local matters and mobile matters, you need to consider being better on AdWords than ever.