"Fix Mobile Usability Issues Found On" Your Site
Have you received a message in your Google Webmaster Tools inbox like the one below recently? If so, you're not alone. Just a few days ago, Google started sending out large-scale notifications via email and Webmaster Tools, warning non-mobile-friendly sites that their pages "will not be seen as mobile-friendly by Google Search, and will therefore be displayed and ranked appropriately for smartphone users."
So just what does this mean? Historically, Google has only notified supposed "mobile-friendly" sites when they had mobile usability issues. Now, with Google sending out these warnings in such a mass scale, it seems that the mobile-friendly ranking factors they've been testing for the past several months might be included into the overall algorithm in the near future. This move would make responsive web design more important than ever, as your mobile rankings could eventually differ widely from your desktop rankings.
To start fixing your problems, you'll want to follow Google's checklist:
- Find problematic pages.
- Log in to your Google Webmaster Tools account and navigate to the "Mobile Usability" section under the "Search Traffic" left-nav option.
- Here, Google will give you a breakdown of the pages they deem to have mobile usability errors and will list out the specific errors so you can work on problems individually.
- Also utilize the Google PageSpeed Insights Tool to test your site speed and usability issues on a per-page basis. Again, Google lists out errors individually and even offers a "show how to fix" option to help walk you through what needs to happen to make certain elements responsive.
- Learn more about mobile-friendly design
- Google offers a pretty expansive "Web Fundamentals" reference guide for designing responsive sites. After you've made a list of all of your problematic pages from Step 1, use this guide to help formulate the best strategy for your site on fixing these mobile usability issues. This reference guide has 114+ sections including: general principles, look and feel, building multi-device layouts, forms and user input, optimizing performance, and more.
- Fix mobile usability issues
- After you've compiled the list of pages with mobile usability errors and read up on how to fix them, start altering your site template/pages to improve their mobile usability as much as possible. After each improvement, re-test each site page with the Google PageSpeed Insights Tool and chart how your score improves. Every element you can improve will help better your score and can eventually work you back into Google's good graces net you the "Mobile-friendly" tag for mobile searches like the screenshot below.
Now, there's no need to panic. Lots of sites received the same warning you did and will all be working towards the same goal you are. In the meantime, you might see a small dip in your mobile rankings if Google's overall algorithm does start taking mobile-friendly sites into account. If you fix most/all of the issues that Google highlights and move your site to fully responsive design, you will very likely qualify for the above "mobile-friendly" tag and may benefit from better rankings than competing sites that still aren't mobile-friendly. If you have any questions about this post or would like to know more about our Responsive Design process, just let us know how we can help.