Is Google Going to Crack Down on Non-Mobile Websites?
We just discussed how mobile SEO is more important than ever. And a big part of mobile SEO is simply making a website that’s clean and easy to use on a mobile device. But this issue just went from amber alert to red alert now that Google is sending out warnings to webmasters en masse.
The warnings started coming in mid-January, and a surprisingly huge number of websites have received them. They don’t say any immediate action has been taken against the websites, and are worded to be a sort of helpful heads up. But coming from the world’s biggest search engine, you can’t help but here a little thunder in the background when you read one.
Here’s what the warnings say:
“[Google has found] critical mobility usage errors. The errors found 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.” (Emphasis added.)
That last part? That’s Google’s way of saying, “We’re gonna knock you out of the search results on mobile devices.”
They don’t, of course, say exactly how or when. Google’s algorithm already takes mobile-friendliness into account as a ranking factor, but has confirmed it’s working on an update that would further widen the gap. The update will boost mobile-friendly sites in the search results, amounting to a double hit for those who don’t make the cut.
Are You Mobile Enough?
Does your website pass Google’s mobile standards? Here’s how you can find out:
- Check Webmaster Tools for a warning. At this point in the SEO game you should already have a free Google Webmaster Tools account, but if you don’t (we won’t tell anyone) go get one now. This allows Google to tak to you directly about site issues, including mobile functionality problems. Once in your account, look for a message with the subject line “Fix mobility usability issues found on [your URL].”
- Search yourself. There’s no guarantee Google has already contacted every website it thinks is a problem, and no reason to wait. Get on your mobile device and run a Google search for your brand. (Not all mobile browsers use Google as their search provider; make sure you’re Googling and not, say, Binging.) When you find your site in the results, take a look: does it say “Mobile friendly” just under the URL?
This new Mobile Friendly tag is useful to site owners, because it tells you instantly whether you live up to Google’s standards. But it also means you need to take fast action—mobile users may start to skip over sites that don’t have this label.
Fixing the Problem
So what happens if you did get a warning? For starters, take it seriously; this is Google telling you that you’re already behind in search results and will drop further in the near future.
But Google’s all about the love, and they include a three-step process to fix the problem along with links to helpful resources. Depending on the complexity of your current website, this is something you can do yourself. A good place to start is Google’s Mobile Guidelines page, which includes a site analyzer, tips for sites hosted on platforms like WordPress, and a set of best practices/common mistakes.
If you’d like professional help, EverSpark’s team can make your site mobile-friendly and provide mobile SEO at the same time. To find out how, get your free consultation today.