FAQ: How Google Ranks Mobile-Friendly Websites

We recently alerted our readers that Google would begin penalizing websites that aren’t mobile-friendly starting April 21, 2015.

The Google Webmaster Central Blog defines “mobile-friendly” as web pages “where text is readable without tapping or zooming, tap targets are spaced appropriately, and the page avoids unplayable content or horizontal scrolling.”

Google warns:

“If your site’s pages aren’t mobile-friendly, there may be a significant decrease in mobile traffic from Google Search.”

Now that the official rollout of Google’s mobile-friendly update has begun, Google is providing answers to some of the questions we’ve been asking.

Mobile-friendly websites rank higher in Google search results - Blogging BistroFAQ

While the update affects Google search results in all languages globally, it applies only to search rankings in mobile search results. It has no affect from searches on laptops or desktops.

The change applies to individual web pages, not entire websites. So, if some of the pages on your website are mobile-friendly but others aren’t, only the mobile-friendly pages will be positively impacted.

Why would a site have both mobile-friendly and mobile-unfriendly pages, you ask?

It happens more often than you might think. We just finished developing a responsive design (mobile-friendly) website for a real estate broker. Several pages on the broker’s site link to a third-party service that allows users to learn the value of their home, search for a home, and view featured properties. While this third-party service claims that their site is mobile-friendly, it isn’t. Our brilliant programmer manually re-programmed those pages and “forced” them into mobile-friendliness.

We’ve experienced the same issue with third party services used by our veterinary, job placement, and hospitality industry clients.

How to find out whether a web page is mobile-friendly

Enter the URL for a specific web page in Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to see whether it qualifies for the “mobile-friendly label.”

A web page must meet following criteria as detected by Googlebot:

  • Avoids software that is not common on mobile devices, like Flash
  • Uses text that is readable without zooming
  • Sizes content to the screen so users don’t have to scroll horizontally or zoom
  • Places links far enough apart so that the correct one can be easily tapped

To review site-level information, visit the Mobile Usability report in Webmaster Tools. This data is based on the last time Google crawled your website.

What to do once your site is mobile-friendly

If pages on your website are not mobile-friendly yet, don’t panic. Every time the Googlebot for smartphones crawls and indexes your website (which is every week or so), the bot will “look” to see whether pages are mobile-friendly. Once a page is mobile-friendly, Google will recognize the change.

If you’re impatient, you can expedite the process by using Fetch as Google with Submit to Index.

More FAQ

For additional FAQ about the rollout, read “FAQs about the April 21st mobile-friendly update

Ready to make your site mobile-friendly?

Give us a call at (425) 244-4242 or email info@bloggingbistro.com to schedule a free, no-obligation needs assessment.

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Mobile-friendly websites rank higher in Google search results

Mobile-friendly websites rank higher in Google search results