Get your site mobile-friendly by April 21st or drop in Google search results!

Mobile siteLet’s talk about a mobile-friendly test that’s available to check your site.

Available is a straightforward tool that will allow you to quickly check a web page on your website to see how mobile-friendly it is.

The mobile-friendly test page for URL’s can use the QR code on your screen or even the short URL. Just search for mobile-friendly test on your favorite search engine, or click the link. https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/

When you reach the page you will view a variety of characteristics:

First, you will see that on the top of the page it shows a pass indicator or a fail indicator, in red or in green, whether or not, based on the test Google runs on your page. The result, is your site considered mobile-friendly?

The first thing the test does is provide plain-text explanations so it’s a good way to understand what’s going on. It doesn’t try to delve too much into the technical detail. It does use Googlebot to fetch your page, so whatever it sees and whatever results it shows will be equivalent to what Google would use to determine if your website is mobile-friendly for mobile search results.

On the left hand side of the test page, is a list of the results for that url submitted and whether or not a specific test passed or failed. And if it failed, it’ll explain in straightforward language what failed and what’s the problem you need to fix.

You’ll see in the middle a picture of how Googlebot actually saw your page when it fetched it, when you clicked on the Analyze button at the top of the test page.

And then you will see on the right-hand column a series of resources and help links to help you figure out what to do next if your page happens to not be mobile-friendly.

If you, for example, use a content management system for your website such as WordPress, Joomla!, or anything else that you may be using, it provides the links to resources that help you figure out what is the easiest way in that particular system to make your website mobile-friendly.

If you built the site yourself, and you’ve developed the skills to do that and want to learn in more detail about the particular elements that the test is talking about, it will also point you to links to Google web fundamental system that has a detailed list of both good practices and technical guidelines, as to how to build good, responsive websites as a whole.

The tool tests one URL at time and you can test multiple pages in sequence but it’s checking one page at a time. It will only test for mobile-friendliness.

Mobile-friendliness matters because good user experience matters, and good user experience matters because it keeps users engaged with your website.

Do mobile plug-ins work for Google on April 21st?

What I can suggest is if you run your webpage as it is with that plugin through the mobile-friendly test now and it passes the mobile-friendly test on one or a variety of pages, or better yet, if you’re already passing in Mobile Usability tool in Webmaster Tools, then you should be fine for April.

Now let’s talk about Google Webmaster Tool

If you don’t already have your website registered on Google Webmaster Tools, I encourage you to do so.

Once your website is validated and authorized in Webmaster Tools, you will see the Mobile Usability test under the Search Traffic tab on the left-hand side of the page. The Mobile Usability tool has a couple of features I want to highlight.

You will see a status indicator along the top. That indicates the date as of which the tests on the pages on your site were conducted. You will see a history of the Mobile Usability testing for the pages on your site over time. Generally, you will want to see that graph declining over time in terms of the number of errors on the site. And then it will show you the different types of mobile usability errors encountered across pages on your website and the number of pages with those errors.

If you click on each one of those individual usability errors, then you will actually see the breakdown for all of the pages that have that type of usability error, the individual pages on your site which show that error, the last date when that page was scanned and also the history chart for error rate on that subset of pages over time.

And again you generally want to act so that you have no pages with errors and that you’re not seeing increasing numbers or changing numbers over time. If this graph is showing anything other than a straight line then it may signal that you may have other problems with your website that are preventing Google from fully seeing that it’s mobile-friendly.

If you click on one of these individual pages that shows the error, it will then show you detail for that error page. That detail will give you first a button that allows you to check if that problem still exists.

This tool is then checking your pages in real-time, it’s checking the pages as Google index them, and as they crawl them, and it depends on how frequently Google crawls your site.

You’ll also be able to see a link to guidelines that talk about the specific error in detail in terms of how to go about repairing it.

This tool will use Googlebot to fetch your pages and so what this tool sees is what Google sees when it comes to ranking your page for mobile usability and mobile-friendliness.

This page does check a relevant subset of pages on your site as they are indexed, so it’s not checking all the pages on your site but it’s checking a relevant good subset of those.

It will only test for mobile-friendliness and not for other good practices.

But it will also keep the history of mobile-friendliness on your site and if you’re seeing any changes in the history of mobile-friendliness, it may allow you to see some trends on your site regarding particular sections that may need some focus on when it comes to design or layout.

Let’s now talk about the PageSpeed Insights tool.

PageSpeed Insights offers you the ability to test for a variety of user experience tests and across as you can see along the top both mobile and desktop experiences. It will test both for user experience when it comes to layout and usability and also has a certain test for speed of rendering and loading of your page, both of which are important for usability of a web page whether it’s on a desktop or mobile device.

As you can see, you can see the results for the user experience tests along the top and the results for the speed tests along the bottom.

Then you can see the view that the PageSpeed Insights’ fetcher actually had of the page. You also see a score for the tests, and the score you could use as a way to gauge your own progress as you go through repairing these elements on your page because it will give you a sense as to whether or not making progress as a whole.

If you click on the More Details tab, or Show How to Fix links, that are under each of the individual tests, the PageSpeed Insights gives you specific tips as to what to do to address particular usability problems identified or particular speed problems identified in the test of your page.

It’s a really good tool to check for both speed and user experience across mobile and desktop.

PageSpeed Insights does not use Googlebot to fetch your page. This matters because if you do not, for example, allow Google to crawl your CSS files or your JavaScript files or your image files and if those files are important for how your site does a mobile layout, then you might get great results in PageSpeed Insights, when it comes to mobile usability and yet still fail the mobile-friendly test because the mobile-friendly test requires Googlebot to be able to see your pages is mobile-friendly.

So you may see a discrepancy in the results and that way it’s important to understand that if you fix all the problems here, you should still take the test with the mobile-friendly tool just to make sure that Googlebot is seeing your page as mobile-friendly.

The PageSpeed Insights tool, like the mobile-friendly test, checks for individual URLs at a time and you can check multiple pages if you want.

This will not be checking your whole website, just the individual URL that you pass along at the top.

It does test for various best practices not just for mobile usability.

It also tests for speed and it does provide very specific technical guidance on how to fix or how PageSpeed Insights might suggest you try to address or fix the individual problems.

If you have separate pages and they actually are showing separate content then those will be matched there. Keep in mind that it’s the mobile-friendly test that gives you the best indicator.

But on individual pages, so if you have particular pages that are very important for your site and you want to make sure that those pages [INAUDIBLE] then run them through the test and make sure that those at the very least are passing.

Generally speaking, if you are a small operation, if you are limited in resources, over time you’ll find that maintaining content on both a desktop and moble sites can be a very difficult thing to do. It can actually take a lot of time. Also, maintaining the two in-sync can take a lot of time and be expensive which means responsive web design might be a better way to go.

Would having a regular desktop site and a mobile version, m.site, be considered duplicate content?

I’d say first of all don’t worry about duplicate content. Worry about what your users are seeing or not seeing, and let Google tackle that.

When it actually comes to switching based on user agent, if you are properly doing mobile-friendly responsive design, you’re not switching.

Good Luck!

Mobile Version of Your Site

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