Evaluate Your Site’s Mobile Usability Using Google Webmaster Tools


Google’s mobile update – Over the last few years, Google has been releasing updates to encourage website owners to turn their sites into a responsive design. In 2013, realizing the growth of Smartphone users, Google announced that it will penalize the sites that will provide faulty user experience to Smartphone users. And as a part of its continuous effort to improve the mobile web experience, in January 2015, Google announced that – “it will favor mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal”.

Along with this warning, the search engine giant also provided a link to Webmaster Tools that helps review the mobile problems identified on your website.

Google’s mobile update was released on 21st April 2015, and so if you don’t want to lose search engine rankings of your site, make sure that it provides an optimal user experience om mobile devices. Through this post, we’ll check out how mobile issues can be flagged in Webmaster Tools, and a few other related important aspects.

More Reading On Google’s Mobile SEO Update

How To Find Mobile Problems In Webmaster Tools?

Remember that, while most of the sites already run Webmaster Tools, some sites might not be running such tools. And so, you’ll have to install the ”Google Webmaster Tools”, for reviewing the mobile issues flagged on your site.

Check A Web Page Below And See If Its Mobile Friendly

If you would like to create a mobile friendly site we recommend that you create a website using WordPress. Below are step-by-step instructions you need to follow to set up the Webmaster Tools:

Step 1 – Browse the Webmaster Tools page over the web. Once you’ve opened up that page, simply log-in with your Google account. You’ll be able to see a field to “Enter your website URL”. Fill up that field and then click on the “Add a Site” button (as shown in the screen shot below):

how to set up Google webmaster tools

Step 2 – In the second step, you’ll have to verify your site.

how to verify Google webmaster tools

Step 3 – Besides, an alternate method is also provided that contains several different methods, you can use for verifying your website, as shown in the below given screen shot:

So, once you’ve finished setting up the Webmaster Tools on your site, keep in mind that you won’t be able to view any data for a couple of days. However, you can accelerate the process of getting your site crawled and indexed by the Google bots, by submitting your website’s sitemap to the Google Webmaster Tools.

The Google Webmaster Tools will provide you with the following screen shot:

webmaster tools displaying mobile errors

Step 4 – Click on the “Mobile Usability” section provided under the “Search Traffic” option, and you’ll see mobile errors (if any) that Google Webmaster Tools have found on your site. Simply click on any one of the error categories, and you’ll be able to view specific flagged URLs for each category.

In general, Google will show up mobility issues divided into 6 main categories:

  • Flash usage
  • Viewport not configured
  • Fixed-width viewport
  • Content not sized to viewport
  • Small font size
  • Touch elements too close

Now, in order to fix the issues, you need to carefully look at the URLs that have been flagged, and then determine the kind of edits that are needed. For example, in case you encounter an issue associated with “Flash usage”, it means that any Flash elements of your site isn’t rendering properly on mobile devices. For instance, when attempting to access the website “We Choose the Moon”, using an iPhone, you’ll be prompted to download Flash to access that website. Since, you cannot install the Flash software on iPhone, you won’t be able to view the site on any mobile device.

To get the issue fixed, the entire site needs to be restructured without including any Flash. The same goes for your site, if you receive a “Flash usage” issue, it would be better to get rid of Flash to provide your users with rich website experience on mobile.

Be Wary Of False Flagged Mobile Issues

You might receive false flagged issues, and so make sure to have a closer look at the issues before taking up any action. For example, in the above discussed example, looking carefully at the flagged URLs for the error “Flash usage”, we found that many of the pages included blogs containing embedded YouTube videos; and the content of those videos was served in an iframe.

Put it simply, while the videos, most of the time does not appear as Flash, they show up in an HTML5 format on phones without any problem. The irony is that, although Google owns YouTube, it still can’t make out that YouTube tends to change the format of a video file when embedded on sites, on the basis of the device they’re being played on.

In a nutshell, make sure to have a closer look at the flagged pages of your website, as the ones automatically crawled by Google might not generate completely accurate results. You cannot avoid the warnings to show up on your website pages, but you could recheck your website by selecting an issue.

You don’t need to worry, as with time Google will refine its testing methods used for filtering out the flags on your pages.

Let’s Wrap Up!

Unquestionably, Google Webmaster Tools proves a worthy and useful starting point to evaluate mobile issues, if any, exists on your website.

And in case you receive any warnings, make sure not to ignore them at all costs. However, remember to carefully analyze the issues, and then determine ways to improve the mobile usability of your site.

Keep in mind that your ultimate goal should be, delivering the best website experience possible to your mobile users.

But, you shouldn’t become over obsessed with improving your ranks in Google, or else you might end up making damage to your site.

About Lucie Kruger

Lucie Kruger is an application developer working with Mobiers Ltd, which is the leading Android app development company. She provides concrete information on latest mobile app development trends.

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