Don’t Panic: How to Make a Website Mobile Friendly After a Google Warning

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Did you receive an email from Google warning you to fix mobile usability issues on your website?

It’s expected that over 2 billion mobile devices will make mobile commerce transactions online by 2017.

If you’ve heard the terms ‘responsive design‘ and ‘mobile friendliness‘ and shrugged it off as a passing fad, unfortunately search engines are going to start rewarding sites that are mobile friendly by pushing down sites that are not.

In other words: your site will be pushed down below other websites that are mobile friendly when someone visits Google on a mobile device regardless of your normal rankings.

Quick Test: is your site already mobile friendly?

Your site may already be mobile friendly. Try resizing your browser. Does your website adjust as you scale it up and down?

Next, visit your website from a tablet and a smart phone. Does the ratio seem to adjust when compared to the desktop layout?

Check your existing site on Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool.

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If all the above checks out your site theme may already be mobile friendly however let’s hear it from Google themselves.

Enter your URL at the Mobile-Friendly Test tool. Don’t forget to test sub domains or sub websites that may use a different theme or framework.

If you pass, exhale and pat your web developer on the back. You’re done.

Join Webmaster Tools

Join Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools. Just as Google Analytics is a monitor for site traffic, think of webmaster tools as a monitor for search crawling: crawl errors, warnings, dead links, sitemap submission and more and all kinds of information that allow you to see why your site might be deindexed or lose ranking.

It’s also where Google sent out direct warnings about mobility issues.

My site failed. Now what?

This is where the panic begins to set in. You still have a few options.

Ask your web developer to update your current theme.

Simple websites and uncomplicated themes can be updated with a few adjustments to the CSS and layout. Remember: just because a site appears simple doesn’t mean it actually is.

There may be many factors your web developer needs to consider before making adjustments so it’s advised to ask for an evaluation forwarding the results of  the Mobile-Friendly Test and weighing the other options below before insisting on this option.

Ensure that best practices for modern web design are followed.

Switch your theme.

Unfortunately your web developer may not be familiar enough with responsive design or your layout may be too technically difficult to make the switch.

If your site theme is older than a couple of years consider switching the layout. Most modern themes come with responsiveness. Theme Forest has tons of them.

Create a separate mobile friendly site.

If all else fails consider making a special sub directory or sub domain for mobile use only. This is typically done at http://mobile.yourwebsite.com or http://m.yourwebsite.com.

Going this route there are other factors to consider such as detecting mobile devices and alerting search engines you have a separate mobile website:

If you do not have a web developer on hand to make your site mobile friendly reach out to freelancer sites or forums. Expect the costs to vary. The process can be as simple as adjusting a few lines of code or as involved as creating another website depending on the  difficulty of your current theme layout.

In my opinion the update is always worth it resulting in a more user friendly experience which almost always increases traffic and conversions.

Email Received from Google

“Google systems have tested 73 pages from your site and found that 100{b8b289f6100aae74d7d1d52719cf8bd1f60dccaf917c1225dc83f2b672071982} of them have critical mobile usability errors. The errors on these 73 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.

Fix this now:

Find problematic pages. View a report of the non-mobile-friendly pages found on your site, and the issues discovered.

Learn about mobile-friendly design. There are a variety of techniques you can use to make your site mobile-friendly. Specifically, look for information about the issues brought up in Webmaster Tools.

Fix mobile usability issues on your site. Fix the issues preventing your site from being mobile-friendly.”