Avoid These Mistakes to Pass Google’s Mobile Friendly Test
Google has announced that it will begin stressing mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor later this month. This was likely not a big surprise to anyone who was paying attention, as it comes on the heels of several other moves the search engine has been making recently to encourage businesses to ensure their websites are optimized for mobile. As opposed to their normal habit of downplaying or failing to acknowledge updates and plans, Google has warned that this change could have a “significant impact” on search results, mainly for those sites that aren’t mobile friendly.
Now that the pressure is on, businesses that are scrambling to prepare may be trying to figure out what they need to right now in order to avoid a disastrous impact on their search rankings.
Fortunately, Google has offered some help. They just posted some tips and guidelines on their developers’ website. The detailed guide, entitled Avoid Common Mistakes, lists common mistakes they see on mobile sites.
Basically, these are things you want to avoid or eliminate in order to ensure your site is mobile optimized.
Unplayable content. Certain types of video and other content won’t function properly or aren’t playable at all on mobile devices. This includes videos that require Flash or other media players that aren’t widely supported on mobile devices. When mobile users land on a page with unplayable content, they will see an error message, which can be annoying and frustrating. Google recommends using HTML5 standards for animations, and using video-embedding that’s playable on all devices.
Faulty redirects. If you have separate mobile URLs, you must redirect mobile users on each desktop URL to the appropriate mobile URL, as opposed to just redirecting to one central location such as a homepage. Use Webmaster Tools to let Google alert you if any of your site’s pages are directing mobile users to the wrong location. Using responsive design will eliminate these headaches, as it uses the same content for both desktop and mobile users.
Mobile-only 404s. Similar to the previous issue, this involves error messages that are displayed to mobile users, rather than showing them the content they want to see. Again, responsive design would eliminate this issue. Barring that, set up your server so that it redirects mobile users to the equivalent URL on your mobile site.
App download interstitials. Interstitials are full-screen ads that prompt visitors to download an app, interrupting their journey to their intended destination. If not implemented properly, interstitials can cause indexing problems and disrupt a user’s experience. Google suggests using a simple banner to promote your app inline with the page’s content, which lets users complete their actions without interruption.
Irrelevant cross-links. This is basically like getting your mobile and desktop universes intermingled. A desktop page may link to a mobile page or vice versa. The solution: just double-check your links to ensure they are pointing to the proper pages.
Slow mobile pages. This is probably one of the most obvious issues, and also among the most common. If your pages are slow to load, visitors will quickly become frustrated and will likely give up and go elsewhere. You can use Google PageSpeed Insights to identify issues that may be slowing down your page loading times.
We know this is a lot to consider, and the whole thing can start to feel overwhelming, especially in light of Google’s dire-sounding warning and the rapidly approaching deadline. We are strongly in favor or using the responsive design approach, as it solves many of these problems while also giving users the optimal experience. KEO Marketing can assist with responsive design or any mobile marketing challenges your business may have.