Is Your Site Mobile-Friendly?

Is Your Site Mobile-Friendly?

The New Google Ranking Factor Could Up-End Search Results.

If you’ve performed a Google search on your smartphone lately, you may have noticed that each listing is pre-faced with “mobile-friendly”. This is to indicate to users that this website will show up on users’ smartphones in a usable way (no pinching and zooming a gigantic website).

But Google is taking is a step further, and is suggesting that your website’s mobile-friendliness will be a major ranking factor in the near-future.

How ‘Near-Future’ is Google Talking Here?

Google has already started sending out mobile usability warnings to webmasters if their websites fail to meet Google’s criteria for mobile-friendliness. If you have a Google Webmaster Tools account, you can check to see if you have any recent messages from Google regarding your website.

As for when it becomes a major factor in ranking your website, you can bet that by May at the latest you will likely see a major algorithm change that will implement mobile-friendliness. Google released a Panda update last May, and you can bet that they will release a new version of Panda around that time this year. The Panda-updates, as you may be aware, deal with filter out low-quality websites by evaluating the on-page content. Mobile-friendliness and on-page content go hand in hand.

Ways To Make Your Site Mobile-Friendly:

There are two major ways to make your site mobile friendly: use a responsive theme (responsive means that the website automatically adjusts to the size of the user’s screen) or use a mobile-website plugin.

Option 1: Responsive Themes

Almost all major new WordPress themes are responsive. If you’re going the free route, you’ll want to search for websites that have ‘responsive’ in their keyword tags. For paid themes on sites like Themeforest.net, you can search for themes by filtering out any that aren’t responsive.

How does it work?

One example is Sahifa theme. It’s one of the most popular WordPress themes out there, so you’ve likely already seen websites that use it. The website itself changes based on the device that visits the webpage. Here’s an example of an external website that uses Sahifa:

http://coupontraveller.com/hotels-com-coupon-code/

Now, if you visit that page on your desktop, and then on your smartphone, you will find that the website looks vastly different. The content, the words and pictures, are all resized to fit your screen. This whole process is completely invisible, and involves no redirection.

If you can find a high quality responsive theme, this is the preferred method for making your website mobile-friendly.

Option 2: Install a Mobile Plugin

If you have a theme that isn’t responsive but you want to keep the theme, another option is to install a plugin that will create a mobile-friendly version of your website, like WP-Touch. These websites will create your website in mobile-form, and will then redirect smartphone users to a different version of your website. There are some drawbacks to this option:

  • The redirection isn’t always perfect: – Sometimes the plugin will detect a tablet or desktop PC as a mobile device and show them the mobile website…which looks terrible up on larger screens. Usually there’s no way manually select the ‘desktop’ version of the site, either.
  • The Plugins Don’t Match Your Site’s Look: – WP-Touch, for example, will make your website look like all the other websites that use WP-Touch. It strips out all the colors and stylings that make your website unique. Your website’s titel will be in plain lettering instead of that fancy banner you created. There is a premium version of WP-Touch with more styling options, if you choose to go that route.
  • The mobile friendly site is a sub-domain, which could have SEO issues – When you visit the mobile site, the web address becomes “www.m.yoursite.com”, which is a subdomain. So if you have a really amazing article that people want to link to, your audience may link to your mobile web address accidentally, which can dilute your link juice. Subdomains and domains have different domain authority in Google’s eyes.

Free Tool: Check Your Site With Google!

If you aren’t sure if your website is mobile-friendly or not, Google has created a free tool for you to check your website here:

https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/

Using the Yoast SEO Plugin

Using the Yoast SEO Plugin

There are a lot of SEO Plugins out there for WordPress, but Yoast is definitely the most popular and the one that I would recommend. It has a lot of great features, and it doesn’t cost you a thing! There is a premium version that you can purchase for $89 a year and it does have some really useful features, but if you are in individual or small business the free version is definitely useful. You can always upgrade to premium later. Here are a couple of my favourite features of the Yoast SEO plugin.

Content Analysis

The best feature of this plugin in my opinion is the content analysis feature. As we mentioned in previous articles, writing strong content is your best tool to get a good ranking in Google. The plugin lets you choose the title and meta description that will show up in your listing in Google instead of it just defaulting to the standard WordPress ones. This can be really helpful for boosting your rank on specific keywords, but also for bringing in more human users as you can use a description that is more eye catching or attention grabbing. You can also set up templates for different types of pages, so you don’t have to re-enter the information on every page.

Strategic Content Visibility

Sometimes you have a page or section of your website that you would prefer to keep out of the Google listings. It’s fairly simple to block a single page using robots.txt, but what if you have a category, tag, or custom taxonomy that you don’t want listed, there could be hundreds of pages in that. It would be pretty time consuming to list each page individually, but using the Yoast SEO plugin it is a one-step process! Why would you want to do this? There might be a page or section that you’d prefer to keep private, or you might want to block them from crawling duplicate content on your site (which lowers the ranking).

Those are my two favourite things about the Yoast SEO plugin, but it has way more feature like:

  • Breadcrumbs
  • Canonical
  • Permalink clean up
  • Clean up head section
  • XML Sitemaps
  • RSS enhancements
  • API Docs

Install it and check it out for yourself!