How have Google’s mobile-friendly rankings affected your business?

A few possums were stirred up by my last article about Google’s new approach to web page ranking. I received quite a number of queries which I thought would perhaps also serve others if mentioned here. So let me first of all thank those stirred possums for reading my article and see if I can at least help with their concerns.

And indeed concern is necessary as Google has in effect jumped the gun a little and has already annotated a large number of sites. They have been quite clever about their methodology by actually identifying the device used to browse the web before rating the site.

In other words use a desktop PC and everything in your search results will appear normal. But use a smartphone or tablet and the link to your site would be seen marked as mobile friendly like this:

AN-74 wk4  google example

I am actually using Google’s own explanatory graphic above. Obviously they are using reverse logic that means that unless the site is marked friendly it cannot be considered suitable for mobile browsing.

Many of you expressed concern that you really did not know what Google was looking for and how would you really know if your sites were correctly modified if indeed this was the course you had taken. To wait for the warning tag to be applied could and indeed would cause considerable harm to your business. Just think of the number of online bookings you would loose simply because your site was avoided by the punters.

Most certainly fair questions but difficult to answer ad hoc since one will have to pretty well generalise to try to cover something as extensive as this subject. The simplest way is to use Google itself. But I must issue a word of caution.

The resources I am about to offer for you to choose are intended for webmasters rather than the casual observer. Despite the fact that as much plain language as possible is used by these resources remember we are dealing with a technical topic.

Google does make a number of tools available which will help you to get some feed back from them. If your site is designed and maintained by others I recommend that you discuss your results with them or your webmaster. A number of you are also your own mentors and use a variety of third party tools. I will comment on those later on.

The first and perhaps the best starting point would be to their Mobile-Friendly Test page. As the title implies here they will reveal some of the issues which may confront you. You will actually be shown your default page as it would appear in a mobile smartphone.

Other resources are also on offer here but unless you understand coding of web pages and allied jargon it may be best to ignore those. They may possible become a source of confusion.

The second resource page can be found at Here you will be provided with a ranking for both the desktop performance and a mobile evaluation score.

Additionally, Google will offer advice on how some of the identified problems can be removed or at least improved. Again this information is of no value to the unskilled but a great guide to the designer if he needs pointers as to where and how he may improve performance and thereby ranking of your site.

If you are someone who uses content management systems that are ready made packages of code then much of the above advice may be quite futile. That is unless you can take some very complex code apart.

These deigns are very much like instant coffee – put it in your cup and just add water. In this case it is your own content such as text and images which would be added; to do much more is usually quite difficult unless you are an expert.

The packaged systems I am talking about are WordPress, Joomla and Drupal and are just a few options in common use.
If you, or perhaps your webmaster, use such ready made packages then Google provides some pretty good advice through their developers site.

One of the issues which I have found inconsistent is the use of sub-domains. These are those that traditionally are prefixed with the letter m or as they are commonly referred to as m dot domains. I have used quite a few of these structures and depending on system configurations have used different methods to direct the browser to the site to actually display.

Again something done through coding and server settings. To date I have found that one version of the m dot domains is accepted by Google whereas another arrangement apparently is frowned upon and ignored completely. But this could even resolve into a code structure error due to my coding and unacceptable to Google

To continue discussion of this topic is not suited for this column but you could draw your webmaster attention to the fact that such issues may arise. Whether they will continue over time will be decided by Google.

I really do not want to take this version of the topic much further as it does become very technical. There are a number of you who appear to be uncertain as to how you should approach this issue so I hope that this very brief discussion has at least given you an insight.

There are other tools available but they may confuse rather than assist as they are definitely intended for the developer.

My last snippet of advice would be that if you really do not want to have detailed answers then just search for you site on your own smartphone or tablet using key words.

Entering your own domain name will not provide the answer. If you do not see the Mobile – Friendly tag against the link to your site you know that you are at a huge risk of loosing business.

So far I have not detected an actual drop in site ranking but it is too early to be certain of that. I do recommend you act on this issue with some alacrity.


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