Learn how to check if your website is mobile-friendly using 2 free tools by Google
On the 21st of April, Google will roll out its new mobile-friendly algorithm.
This is what Google announced on its official blog:
“Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. 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”.
What does this mean?
Sites that aren’t mobile-friendly will rank lower in search results made on mobile devices.
If your website is not mobile-friendly, your traffic will be impacted: you will receive less visits from mobile searchers.
And if your competitors have a mobile-friendly websites, they will have a distinct ranking advantage over you.
This is going to be a huge change in Google’s rankings – that’s why it’s also known in the sector as Mobilegeddon.
As the percentage of mobile searches are growing and growing world-wide and cannot be ignored anymore if you have a website, sites that are not ready for mobile might lose a significant amount of traffic.
The exact amount of traffic that will be lost changes for each website that is not ready yet, as it depends on how many positions that website is going to lose in the ranking of searches on mobile devices for each specific keyword now bringing traffic to the website.
So, how can you prepare to this big change?
First of all, you need to understand whether your website is mobile friendly or not.
I use 2 free tools provided by Google to do that for my clients’ websites. They are available to the public and you too can use them:
- Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test (MFT)
- the Mobile Usability feature in Google Webmaster Tools
Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test
Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test is a quick way to determine if a page is mobile-friendly or not.
This test, provided by Google, will assess whether your page has a mobile-friendly design, and will also offer specific advice on where improvements can be made.
It basically gives you a pass or fail grade.
The page you test will come out as mobile friendly (you will get the “Awesome! This page is mobile-friendly” message) or not mobile friendly (you will get the “Not mobile-friendly” message).
You just need to enter your URL, and click on Analyze:
After a few seconds, Google will tell you whether your site is mobile friendly or not.
It will also show you how your page displays on a mobile device:
In some cases you could get a positive result even if there are a few minor issues (such as specific resources blocked by robots.txt) that Google will list and that you might decide to fix.
When the issues are major, your website fails the test, and Google will tell you why so that you know what to fix:
Reasons why your page is failing the tests include text that is too small to read, a mobile viewport that is not set, content that is wider than the screen, and links that are too close together.
When the results of the tests are negative, Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test offers support to fix the errors, usually redirecting to specific sections of the Google’s Mobile Guide.
Depending on your errors, you might be able to fix them by yourself, even with limited technical skills, or you might need a developer.
For example, if you have a WordPress-based website, Google will bring you to a support page, in its Mobile Guide, specific for WordPress website owners. You will read there about possible solutions such as updating your WordPress configuration, adopting a responsive theme, using specific plugins to create a mobile version of your website to display to your mobile visitors, or more specific solutions for your specific errors.
In some cases, the solutions provided by the test sometimes will not be helpful, unless you have advanced skills and are able to work on the code of your website.
In these cases at least you will know what’s wrong from the mobile usability point of view and what you should ask your developer to do to make your website mobile-friendly.
The Mobile-Friendly Test Test, unfortunately, can only analyze a single page/URL at a time.
So, while it’s a quick way to check a page and get an overview of its possible mobile-friendliness issues, it’s not the best tool to use for larger websites.
Mobile Usability (in Google Webmaster Tools)
If you have a larger website and you do not want to individually test each URL through the Google Mobile-Friendly Test, the best approach is to use the Mobile Usability feature available in Google Webmaster Tools.
The Mobile Usability feature, added to Google Webmaster Tools in Oct 2014, is another recent tool offered by Google to improve your website from the mobile usability point of view.
The new feature shows mobile usability issues across your website, and shows a graphs over time to track your progress.
After choosing your website in the home page of Google Webmaster Tools, click on Search Traffic and then on Mobile Usability to get insight into site-wide issues impacting your mobile friendliness:
You will be able to see the errors found by Google in your full website.
The errors include: flash content, missing viewport, tiny fonts, fixed-width viewports, content not sized to viewport, and clickable links/buttons too close to each other.
Clicking on each error will display the exact pages of your website affected by that error:
Clicking on a url in the list will open a pop-up with various links:
The first link (Check live version) will open the Google PageSpeed Insights tool, which is another great tool to understand and fix mobile issues in your pages.
Note: the Google PageSpeed Insights tool is really useful to improve your website performance, and I use it daily in my job, but you should NOT rely on it to understand whether your website is going to be penalized by the change in the algorithm, as Google clearly specified in a comparison between Google Mobile-Friendly test and Google PageSpeed Insight.
The other links usually bring you to relevant sections of Google’s Mobile Guide, where you can read more about your mobile issues and how to fix them.