Google Update: Do You Have a Mobile-Friendly Website?

Google Update: Do You Have a Mobile-Friendly Website?

Do you have a mobile-friendly website? 

April 21st, 2015, saw the arrival of Google's new search algorithm designed to weed out those sites that are not mobile-friendly. 

In this post, we look at the changes and how you can ensure your site is ready. 


Mobile-Friendly Background

Stage 1

Towards the end of last year Google announced that it was going to bring in some changes to help people find mobile-friendly sites when searching on a mobile site.

I'm sure you've experienced those websites on your mobile where the pages are unfriendly.

You know, the ones where the text is so small, you need a magnifying glass to read it.

Or the ones where you have to scroll sideways to read the content.

It's frustrating isn't it? My first reaction is to hit the 'back' button and find a website that is friendly.

But how do you know what is friendly before you actually open the page?

Enter Google's latest search change​!

​Last November they announced:

To make it easier for people to find the information that they’re looking for, we’re adding a “mobile-friendly” label to our mobile search results.

You can see that in action already when you search on your mobile device:

mobile-friendly1 |

Stage 2

Now Google is going to take this a stage further.

Unlike other Google algorithm changes, notably Panda and Penguin, we have been given specific notice. 

On February 26th, they announced the updates to their algorithm:

Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices

What does that mean?

It means you better make sure that your website is mobile-friendly by April 21st.

If it is not mobile-friendly then your website will drop down the rankings in Google for mobile searches.​

When 48% of all mobile research begins on a search engine, according to Google's own mobile path to purchase report, you can't take the chance of your site being removed from the mobile-friendly index.

Of course, you could ignore the warning and take a chance that your desktop ranking won't be affected, but that won't help you or your readers in the long run.

More and more people are using their mobile devices when surfing the net. I know I do.

It's just so handy at times to have a quick search on something. If it doesn't look good I either have to find a site that is good or bookmark the site to check on my desktop later.

Guess which one of those options wins?

Do you want to lose potential visitors to your site?

So, how do you check if you have a mobile-friendly website?

Mobile-Friendly Test

Until the algorithm changes take effect we won't know exactly what will happen. 

In the meantime, Google has given us some tools to check if our website is mobile-friendly.​

Tool #1

If you want to test a few pages, you can use the Mobile-Friendly Test.

This test allows you to enter specific pages, one at a time, and see if they pass the test.

Here is the criteria that Google is checking for:

  • Avoids software that is not common on mobile devices, like Adobe 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 easily be tapped

Here's what I get when testing the Byte Of Data home page:

mobile-friendly2 |

That's a great start! 

Underneath is some helpful text explaining what the Google robot has detected:​

mobile-friendly3 |

And below that is a simulation of your mobile web page as detected by Google:

mobile-friendly4 |

​Remember, this is just for the one page you are testing.

Rinse and repeat for other pages on your website.

Tool #2

​If you want to test your whole website, then you can use the Mobile Usability Report.

Here's what I get when checking

mobile-friendly5 |

​So, how do you ensure that you have a mobile-friendly website?

Mobile-Friendly Themes

If you are using WordPress then you need to ensure you have selected and installed a Mobile Responsive Theme.

A mobile responsive theme is coded in such a way that no matter what screen size you view the webpages on they will automatically adjust and adapt.

When selecting a theme make sure it states 'mobile responsive' in the features.

Friend or foe? Some themes claim to be mobile-friendly but just shrinking the text size makes them mobile-unfriendly!

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There are many WordPress Theme vendors, but based on my experience I can recommend two: StudioPress and Thrive Themes.


StudioPress is a well-established WordPress Theme vendor.

I started this site in 2014 with a StudioPress theme called Centric Pro.

One of my main reasons for choosing StudioPress was because all of their Pro-themes are mobile responsive.​

Thrive Themes

​Thrive Themes produce a variety of WordPress themes which are all mobile responsive.

If you check out reason number 7 from "10 Reasons Thrive Themes Are a Cut Above the Rest" you will see the following:

mobile-friendly6 |

I'm currently using Minus from Thrive Themes. It's just one of nine they currently have in their range.

Check out the full range of Thrive Themes to find one that suits your needs!

As a Thrive Member you get access to all current and future Themes and Plugins. One annual membership fee ensures you remain at the cutting edge of design and functionality!​


Here's what you have learned today:

  • If your site is not mobile-friendly, you'll pay a penalty in mobile search rankings
  • Have you passed the test? Is your website mobile-friendly? 
  • Which mobile responsive theme are you using?
David Hartshorne

I'm a freelance writer working with business owners, marketing teams, and digital agencies to create in-depth, actionable content that resonates with their audience. When I'm not writing about digital marketing, you’ll find me roaring for the Villa or chilling with a thriller.

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