How to ensure your website is completely Mobile-Friendly?

A common misconception users have when they put up their websites is that a responsive mobile site automatically equals a mobile-friendly site. Organizations cannot afford to operate with this notion in mind, especially with the latest change in Google’s algorithm.
Why is that? Why is it time to say goodbye to this common myth? The answer is simple. Google has finally declared that Mobile means King. Sites that don’t respond with user friendliness are bound to suffer when it comes to mobile search results.
So, how do you ensure your site is compatible with mobile devices?
Start with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. This test is meant to show you your site’s ease of use for mobile users. If Google gives you the thumbs up, you won’t have to worry about losing traffic when it comes to the mobile device department.

Just in case your site isn’t in the clear just yet, we have put together a list of mistakes you might be making when it comes to assessing your site. Steering clear of the following should put you back in Google’s good books.

Blocked CSS, Blocked JavaScript, and Blocked Image Files

Where the problem is:
As kids, mom used to promise us a cookie if we were good. However, we couldn’t see the cookie jar so we ended up being naughty anyway. What good was the promise if we couldn’t see it? Google works this way too. When you block CSS, your Image Files and JavaScript, through the robots.txt file, Googlebot and other search engine spiders can’t render or index your website. This makes it difficult for Google to determine what your website looks like on mobile devices. If they can’t see it, what good is it? This will ultimately hurt your ranking.

Fixing it:
You will need to start by checking your robot.txt file by visiting (yoursite’sname)/robots.txt. The red light should be anything that looks like .js or .css If you have direct access to edit, you will want to get rid of these line items from the robots.txt file. If you don’t have direct access to edit, you can change your settings (depending on the CMS you’re using).

Unplayable Content

Where the problem is:
Your videos and other playable content can’t play on mobile devices, prompting constant error messages that leave users irritated. Not really mobile-friendly right?

Fixing it:
This problem may be caused by certain video players or use of flash-based material. A great alternative may be the use of HTML5 together with video embedding (such as Vimeo or YouTube) to make your content playable on all mobile devices.

Faulty Redirects

Where the problem is:
Have you ever used a site that keeps redirecting you to the homepage even after you click ‘FAQ’ close to five times? This is the same problem your mobile users may be experiencing when they use your site. Sometimes, the desktop site servers are to blame. However, the website designers are the ones who have configured them to redirect users to the homepage, regardless of what URL they have requested.

Some mobile users experience redirects because of the type of device they are using. For example, iPhone users, Android users and Windows phone users may respond differently.
Faulty Redirects

Fixing it:
You can easily detect and correct these faulty redirects through using Google’s Webmaster Tools. If you have URLs specific to mobile devices for your mobile device users, test their user-friendliness by making sure your website’s pages (as viewed on a desktop computer) correctly redirect users to the matching URL on their mobile phones.

You may be one of those with a page that doesn’t have a smartphone equivalent. No biggie. Just keep your users on the desktop page. This allows you to kill two birds with one stone. You may not have a mobile site, but your users will still get the content they have requested.

Also, you must ensure you are investing in responsive web design. This responsive web design needs to use the same content and URL for desktop users as it would use for mobile users. An extra advantage would be to ensure it automatically changes buttons, text size, and other related page features based on the size of the screen. Google usually favors this style when compared to a separate mobile site.

Mobile-Only 404 errors

Where the problem is:
Some URL pages which render effortlessly on a desktop computer may give users who access the same URL page on their mobile phones a 404 error message.

Fixing it:
The Crawl Errors Report part of Google’s Webmaster Tools should help you find and fix any 404 mobile related error messages. Redirecting mobile phone users to a mobile page URL that serves as an equivalent may also help. Don’t have an equivalent mobile page? Keeping your users on the desktop page may work just as well. (Note: this option works way better than presenting them with annoying error messages). Lastly, use responsive web design. This will help you avoid redirects and enable you to serve all your visitors the same content and make your site more user-friendly.

Application Download Interstitials

What the problem is:
Having a mobile app is great because you give your users more ways to access your content without the need for browsers or Wi-Fi. However, this doesn’t mean you should force content on them through interstitials. This will prevent them from using your mobile site and having the best experience with your brand.
App Download Interstitials

Fixing it:
Most people block their users from accessing their mobile site so that they can promote their apps. You don’t have to limit access to your site. Instead, use a banner at the top of your website to promote your app without hindering your users’ experience. You can also use your operating system support and/or your browser to add an HTML banner (or an image) in the same way you would add an ad that links to the app store to encourage downloads.

Slow Pages

What the problem is:
Your pages load slowly on mobile devices.

Fixing it:
Use Google’s PageSpeed Insights to find out if you have any issues that can slow your web pages down. Remember to focus on the sub-section on Speed and fix all the issues marked ‘should fix’.

Why is all of this such a big deal? Why should you care if your site is user-friendly or not? Google has this unique ability to predict the future. They know that billions of people worldwide will soon have smartphones in their pockets and these users will want to access content fast and efficiently.

Mobile-friendly sites are just the beginning. Content part of mobile apps is becoming increasingly important as well. We can help you stay on top of all that Google is planning. Check out our second post part of the Google Updates series. We offer you explanations, advice and tips on how to make sure your content is in its tip top shape when it comes to Google search engine results.
For reference and more help, check out the Google mobile guide as well

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