If your blog isn’t mobile-friendly, Google could penalize you as the web giant is tries to make search results reflect mobile-first sites.
Back in March 2018, Google said it would begin migrating sites that follow the best practices for creating a good mobile user experience to “mobile-first indexing.”
That means, in a nutshell, Google will put a priority on mobile-friendly sites. Many of us who blog primarily do so on a desktop or laptop computer. So what we see of our site, primarily, is not the mobile version.
The same is true in the news business: as a digital manager of a news site, 95% of the work I do on the site itself is on a desktop or laptop computer. But the majority of users who read our content are doing so on mobile phones. That means I have to continually pick up my phone and look at our mobile site to make sure we’re providing a good experience there, since that’s where more people are going to see us.
Not convinced of the importance of mobile? Check your analytics!
If I look at the first six months of 2018 to see what my readers are using to access this site, I quickly see that mobile has to take priority: 56% of my readers are reading this site on a mobile phone. Add another 5% on tablets and that leaves just 39% reading on desktop. I’m one of those pesky desktop holdouts: I do the majority of my web reading on a desktop (or laptop, which is included in that measure).
While I have an iPhone — and actually have to carry a second one because of work — I prefer to surf the web on a “big” screen. But I have to recognize that I am not in the majority in that mindset.
If nearly two-thirds of my audience is experiencing my site on a mobile device, I need to make sure the mobile experience is a good one.
The call for mobile priority isn’t new.
For years now, bloggers have been urged to make sure their websites were “responsive.” That means that your website “responds” to the size of the device on which it was displayed and orient things accordingly. Rather than seeing a wide website typical of what you’d find on desk top or laptop displays, the mobile version would place everything in one long column to fit the screen. The sidebar, for example, would either be at the top of the page or (more likely) the bottom beneath the new content. Or it might even be in a menu that you access in the corner of the page that otherwise stays out of the way.
Everything was there, but some things were just moved around to fit the screen, so to speak.
Sometimes, however, a “responsive” site design didn’t look much like the desktop design: sometimes, it was a completely different look that was optimized for the mobile experience. Your site still provided a good experience for your mobile audience, but it didn’t necessarily look like your site.
A site that isn’t responsive or mobile-friendly displays on a mobile screen just as it does on desktop but is squeezed down to fit the screen. That means you have to “pinch and expand” to zoom in and read the content. That’s considered a poor user experience.
A true mobile-friendly site, however, may also incoroprate additional features specifically for mobile users. Phone numbers, for example, on a mobile-friendly site may, when clicked, offer a button to immediately place a call. Addresses might offer a button to call up the location on a mapping app. Image galleries should display without a requirement of Flash, which Apple doesn’t support.
In a nutshell, a mobile-friendly design is able to adapt itself on the fly so that no matter what size screen your readers visit your site on, they can easily enjoy your content.
Google has a simple test that will check your blog to make sure it’s “mobile friendly.” If you haven’t checked your blog, now is definitely the time to do so! You can click here to test your site to see if it qualifies as mobile-friendly.
What you’re hoping to see when you run the test is something like this:
If you don’t see that it has ruled your site as “mobile-friendly,” it will give you suggestions of issues to correct. This can help you get your site to comply faster.
From there, hopefully, Google will be happier with your site. And that should mean better search results.
You certainly don’t want Google to view your page as “not mobile-friendly” because that could hurt your rankings.
The test will also alert you to any page loading issues that you might want to know about as well.
Sometimes, the problems it finds are things you can solve on your own, while you may need to consult with your web developer or theme maker for others.
But it’s better to know where you stand now than ignore potential problems.