Get Your Site Mobile Ready to Avoid Penalties

It is no secret that Google has been penalizing sites that don’t offer mobile searchers with a good user-experience. However, the major search engine recently confirmed that they are planning on boosting the rankings of sites that offer a great UX for mobile users. Let’s face it, it can be rather frustrating to land on a non-mobile-friendly site and that’s why Google now labels mobile search results to help searchers choose the sites on more carefully.

Sites that are already ranking well should take the necessary steps to become mobile-friendly. Google spent months testing the new feature in an effort to enhance the user-experience of mobile users, and in order to help searchers know which sites are suitable, they have added a “Mobile-Friendly” tag to the results meta data snippet. Additionally, Google recently launched the latest changes to the algorithm, which will see mobile friendly sites rank better in the search results.

A penalty for sites with poor mobile experience was introduced in June 2013. Sites that generated errors or issues for mobile users, would receive lower visibility on Google Mobile’s smartphone search results pages, which differs from desktop search results.

Penalty for Errors – Boost for Mobile Perfection

It only makes sense that sites that are doing it right should be boosted in the search results, and that’s probably what made the search engine to give those sites that go the extra mile, the Google mobile-friendly badge of honor.

That means that sites that are labelled mobile-friendly, will be given the VIP treatment by the ranking algorithm.The aim of this new initiative is to improve the overall mobile web experience for the constantly growing mobile user base.

What Does This Mean to Semi Mobile-Friendly Sites?

Of course, there are many gray areas. Some sites will rank at the middle of the range for mobile-friendliness, but excel in other aspects of algorithm prerequisites. What will happen to those sites?

Just because a site does not earn the mobile stamp of approval, does not mean that it suddenly won’t rank well, nor will it face a penalty. Sites that generate mobile errors will likely face penalties, but the average site will still be visible. However, sites that are mobile friendly will rank higher.

Maintaining Excellent Rankings on Mobile

Google has been testing and getting to understand what mobile users want. They even included mobile usability reports to Webmaster Tools to help webmasters detect mobile web site issues.

Would you like for your site to show in the mobile search results pages? GoogleBot uses the following criteria when it crawls your site, so ensure that:

1. You don’t use any software that is foreign to mobile devices (such as Flash).
2. Your font is scalable and easy to read on mobile without zooming, scrolling horizontally, or pinching the screen to see the entire page.
3. Links and page elements are spaced far enough to allow for easy tapping.
4. There is a defined viewport (viewing area) that adjusts to the size of the viewers device screen.
5. Visual design is motion-driven, using mobile-friendly technology.

Google recommends that webmasters test their sites using the new Mobile-Friendly PageSpeed Insights tool, and that they review the mobile-friendly guidelines, and also access a variety of third-party tools that are available to help enhance the mobile-friendly aspects of your website.