Google recently started sending out alerts to website owners who have their site set up in Google Webmaster Tools. Of course this isn’t something new – you’ve always been able to set this up so you can be notified if anything is up with your site.
What these latest notifications relate to is your website’s mobile capabilities. With so many people now accessing the Internet via their smartphone it’s been pretty clear for quite some time that you should be making sure they have a great user experience whilst doing it. That’s just common sense and good business sense too.
So what’s changed?
Google has now started telling site owners when they don’t consider their website to be mobile friendly. They will tell you how many of your site’s pages it considers need to be updated and typically this is the message you’ll see:
“Google systems have tested xx pages from your site and found that 100% of them have critical mobile usability errors. The errors on these xx 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 you haven’t received a notification it might be worth logging into Webmaster Tools to check just in case you turned off these notices. And if your site isn’t verified with Webmaster Tools you need to do it now!
When you log into WMT you can check on your website’s mobile usability by going to Search Traffic -> Mobile Usability. Here it will tell you of any errors in this respect.
What does this mean for you?
When Google tells you a page will be “displayed and ranked appropriately for smartphone users” they’re telling you in no uncertain terms it won’t rank! Think about that for a minute. How much of your traffic comes from people searching on mobile devices? Even if it’s only 10% can you afford to lose that 10%? Let’s be honest, it’s likely to be much higher than that.
Take a look at your competitors – are their sites optimized for mobile viewing? You might outrank them on desktop searches but hey presto they could start beating you on mobile if they’re ahead of the game… Your backlinks and social profile won’t mean a thing – if your site is not mobile friendly it WON’T RANK ON GOOGLE FOR SEARCHES ON MOBILE DEVIES. Period.
What Should You Do?
Without wanting to state the obvious update your site so that it’s mobile friendly. That may mean updating your theme to a responsive one if you’re using WordPress or you might have to speak to your web designer to discuss the options. If you’re just starting out and getting your website built make sure that mobile usability is at the top of your list of specifications and don’t accept any excuses for not getting it done.
The use of mobile phones for internet browsing and shopping is only going to increase – make sure your business isn’t left behind!