While making your website mobile-friendly has been a major to-do for many people, Google recently announced that they were experimenting with using mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. With how prevalent mobile traffic has become, this makes plenty of sense as who wants to click on a search result on Google and reach a page they can’t view correctly or interact with smoothly?
In November 2014, Google added a “mobile-friendly” tag to websites that are deemed mobile-friendly in search results. The goal, of course, is to “help users find mobile-friendly pages.” You could say that Google’s idea is that by helping mobile users find such optimized pages more easily, mobile pay-per-click advertising will grow more quickly. Advertising aside, this is a good thing for mobile audiences overall. Favoring mobile-friendly websites will push more site owners to make sure they’re mobile optimized before they become too behind and have to play a lot of catch-up.
Avoid software not common to mobile devices, especially Flash
Many websites have used Flash in the past, but many mobile devices do not have the ability to use Flash. If you have any sections of your website that use Flash, these are among the first things that you need to address on your site. Some web video players that don’t use Flash don’t seem to work on mobile, so make sure that any video content that you want all users to see is mobile-friendly, as well.
Sizes content to the screen so users don’t have to scroll horizontally or zoom
Scrolling on mobile is a major issue with many websites. Some websites will not even allow you to scroll sideways, meaning that considerable parts of web-pages can be cut off on the display. This is a major source of mobile bounce rate, as who wants to stay on a non-functional site?
Uses text that is readable without zooming
Even sites that will size content to fit the screens on mobile devices may not necessarily take into account the text size. Having to zoom in to read text means that scrolling often will have to be involved, creating a less-than-desirable user experience.
Places links far enough apart so that the correct one can be easily tapped
This is similar to text size, but misclicking is something that can happen on mobile, especially on smartphones. More often than not this is more of an annoyance than something that will make users completely abandon a site, but it’s something to definitely keep in mind. No one wants to keep ending up on pages they don’t intend to be on.
A seamless user experience is always preferred no matter what the venue, but any potential frustrations are even more important to remove on mobile. With people often looking at websites on mobile on the go, you have a very short window in which to get them to stay. Page load times are especially important on mobile, something that Google looks at no matter whether your visitors are mobile or not.
You can take Google’s mobile-friendly test at this address: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly. Google Webmaster Tools users also have the option to see how many of of your web pages are mobile-friendly.
Keep in mind that Google’s mobile-friendly tests are not 100 percent foolproof. Your website should be tested across all sorts of mobile devices in order to provide the best possible user experience. Google may be favoring mobile-friendly websites more than ever, but it all comes down to user experience, which is exactly what Google is trying to promote.