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Google Provides More Information About Mobile-Friendly Algorithm


First came the addition of mobile usability features to webmaster tools. Then it was announced that mobile usability will absolutely become a ranking factor in mobile searches. Then came the announcement that Google's mobile-friendly algorithm will begin it's rollout on April 21.

While it may or may not deserve the term that some have given it - "mobilegeddon" - the fact remains that this adjustment could have an even bigger effect than Google's infamous Panda and Penguin algorithm changes. Now, Google has provided some advice for webmasters trying to prevent the loss of mobile traffic.

Google Hangout Clarifies Mobile-Friendly Details

Google has already defined the main problems that will prevent a site from ranking highly in mobile search results. As a reminder, these issues include:

  • Having a viewport that isn't configured
  • Having a fixed-width viewport
  • Using Flash
  • Having content that requires expanding or horizontal scrolling to read
  • Having clickable items too close too each other
  • Using a font size that's too small

In a recent Google+ hangout, Google representatives answered questions about some issues that SEOs still have. The three most important points made during the hangout were:

  1. Each page on your site will be judged on its own. Having a mobile-friendly homepage will not guarantee that all your site pages will be considered mobile-friendly in search results.
  2. A page is either mobile-friendly or it isn't. In other words, there is no spectrum - Google's mobile-friendly test is pass/fail.
  3. The new algorithm will roll out on April 21 and could take about a week to complete. This means that sites should start seeing how this algorithm affects them almost immediately.

To quickly check if your site is mobile-friendly according to Google, you can simply search for it using a mobile device. Alternatively, you can use Google's quick and easy Mobile-Friendly test tool. Of course, mobile usability can be investigated in detail within Webmaster Tools, but that information is only as recent as Google's last crawl of your site.

Other Potential Mobile Mistakes

Besides the issues that Google has already laid out, there are other considerations to take into account when making your site mobile-friendly. Google Developers lists seven common mistakes that are often seen on mobile sites. They include:

  1. Blocked JavaScript, CSS and image files
  2. Unplayable content
  3. Faulty redirects
  4. Mobile-only 404s
  5. App download interstitials
  6. Irrelevant cross-links
  7. Slow mobile pages

The full guide, available here, explains each of these issues in detail as well as how to rectify them. For now, webmasters should mainly focus on the usability issues that will get them a mobile-friendly label as quickly as possible. However, it's entirely possible that the issues described by Google Developers could eventually play a role in the mobile-friendly algorithm. Bottom line - any site that wants to stay relevant and visible in the future would do well to follow all best practices for mobile-friendliness as time goes on.

T.J. Anderson

Posted on 31st March, 2015 by T.J. Anderson

About T.J. Anderson

T.J. Anderson is a Chicago-based content editor and writer, as well as an SEO and marketing specialist.

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