If your website is not responsive to mobile devices or does not display properly on the various screen sizes, in the coming weeks or months you could find it more difficult for you to rank on Google.
Google’s Mobile Warning Notifications – The Back story
Not long ago Google announced that they’d begun sending mass email notifications to webmasters with non-responsive sites. The purpose of the emails was to alert website owners to adjust their website(s) for responsiveness to various screen sizes. Besides sending the mass notifications, Google also provides several resources in Webmaster Tools — such as the Mobile Friendly Test Tool — that you can use to review and adjust how your website responds to mobile devices. Alternatively, you can use their stand alone Page Speed Insights Test.
It should also be noted that there are some who view the move as a sign that Google may soon be updating their search engine algorithm in a way that makes it harder for non-responsive websites to appear higher on the search engine results pages.
Changing Browsing Habits
Since in the past, most websites were accessed via computers, website designers became accustomed to making websites with a fixed-width display size that would fit the screen width of standard computer monitors. However, as new devices— like mobile phones, tablets, laptops, game consoles, notebooks and TVs also began accessing the internet, users found that traditional websites provided a poor user experience because they couldn’t render properly on other devices.
Ultimately, these issues led to the notion that websites should be able to detect the type of device that is accessing the site. This way the site could automatically adjust, according to the screen width. Every since this became commonplace, the result has been a more seamless browsing experience for the user.
Of course, not every webmaster has made the transition to a responsive website design. As a result, there are still large numbers of sites that are not mobile-friendly. Since so many of Google’s users are conducting their searches from their smart phones or mobile devices, the best way to improve the users’ experience is to get full or near-full compliance. Hence, Google views the Webmaster Tools notifications as a way to address the problem.
Modern Site Designs Come with Responsiveness Baked-In
By and large, most modern websites are already responsive to the different page viewing environments that visitors are likely to use when accessing the newer sites. This is made possible through the use of a piece of website code called viewport. It’s a line of code that controls the way that websites adjust to different screen sizes.
Although it’s rare that you find a web designer that isn’t familiar with viewport, it’s still a good idea to ask the designer if they use the code on the sites that they design — before you hire them to build a new website. Likewise, if you’re planning on purchasing a template for one of the more popular open source website platforms – such as WordPress or Joomla, most of the themes that were made after 2013 come mobile enabled. However, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to confirm that the WordPress, Joomla or Drupal theme that you plan on purchasing is mobile friendly.
If you have a legacy website that isn’t responsive or that was built using much older web technology, it may be time to consider a complete overhaul to your site so that you don’t alienate your audience. If you’re not sure whether your website is visible on multiple screens, you can use Google Webmaster Tools to find out.
Ensuring That Your Website is Responsive
- Add the Viewport Tag to Your Website – Depending on how the website was built, it may be possible to have a web developer add the viewport tag. However, keep in mind that some websites are not compatible with the newer website tags.
- Redesign Your Website – Another option you may consider is re-building or starting a new site from scratch and making sure to build responsiveness into it. This may be a better option as new websites should also be compatible with the latest web database technology and could also give you an opportunity to ensure that your website is fully up to date.
- Adjust Your Theme – For webmasters who have built their website using WordPress, Drupal, Joomla or other common website development platforms, you may only need to adjust your settings or change the template to make it responsive.
After updating your website, don’t forget to re-test it to make sure that it’s able to pass the mobile friendliness test.
The bottom line is that if you received one of Google’s mobile-friendly warning emails, there’s no need to panic. All you have to do is follow one of the three suggestions mentioned above and you should be well on your way to having a mobile ready website. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this on your own, the responsive design experts at ROI4my.com can help. Call us today at 480-382-7644.