Is your website mobile friendly? Google is about to make you care.


Normally, I don’t start a blog post by quoting another blog, but here goes:

“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? If your website isn’t “mobile friendly”, your search engine rankings will likely be penalized in favor of other websites that are optimized for mobile traffic. In other words, on April 21, you may start to see a big drop in traffic your website receives from mobile users directed there via Google search.

What’s more, Google’s indexing service will independently score every page of your website for mobile viewing, so even if your homepage is optimized with a responsive layout, lower-level pages that are not optimized could suffer in their own search engine ranking.

Google offers a mobile friendly test as part of their webmaster tools. A web form lets you provide a website URL, which Google will then analyze, report on its mobile friendliness, major issues or errors it is able to determine, and even render for you on-screen the way that website looks on a mobile device.

The test is not as detailed as a full website scan, but it can point out problems and help you understand whether your website is ready for the new indexing rules.

Google Webmaster tools / mobile readiness

If your website was built using a popular CMS (content management system) platform such as WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal, the good news is that mobile friendliness may be as simple as changing your website’s theme (user interface template) and trimming down the length of some of the content on your website. Most CMS theme developers these days design with mobile responsiveness in mind, so a single theme may be capable of serving a traditional website layout for viewing on a desktop computer, and automatically scale and re-render the layout for table and mobile devices.

Our own website is a good example of a mobile responsive layout. To see this in action, try viewing our website in a full-screen browser window on your computer. Then, start to narrow the browser screen down to the size of a tablet. You’ll see the top, horizontal navigation bar turn into a mobile-optimized dropdown in the upper left corner. If you continue narrowing the size of the window, you’ll see images scale, and columns of information automatically stack vertically.

Additionally, many browsers, including Google Chrome and Firefox, contain built-in developer tools (or support free add-ons from the developer community) that let you simulate the appearance of your website on a variety of mobile devices.

With Google’s upcoming mobile indexing rules, the results are pretty straight forward:

mobile friendliness2
Which would you prefer?

Canvas Host can help you determine if your website is mobile ready, or if it needs some help. Please contact us if you’d like to learn about our CMS development and consulting services. We’ll help answer your questions and provide the information you need to ensure your website is ready for mobile visitors.

David Anderson

This blog is published by David Anderson, Principal and owner of Canvas Host.