Tag Archives: SERPS

Google’s Mobile-Friendly Website Warning

example of a mobile-friendly websiteOn this page you can read about:

  • Google’s warning, and what it means for website owners;
  • What makes a website mobile-friendly;
  • Ways to check your website;
  • Three methods of mobile-friendly implementation;
  • Google’s mobile-friendly web page testing tool;
  • What to do next.

Google’s Warning

Google has announced a change in its search algorithms. From April 21st, 2015, websites that are not mobile-friendly may appear lower in mobile search results than those that are.

Google thinks mobile-friendliness is important, and rightly so. Searches on mobile devices outstripped those on desktops and laptops last year. See the stats here. We monitor clients with nearly 70% of website visits from mobile devices.

They send webmasters an email when their web crawler, “googlebot”, finds pages that don’t comply. The mails arrive from the Webmaster Tools Team, with subject, “Fix mobile usability issues found on [website name].”

What Makes a Website Mobile-Friendly?

Mobile-friendly websites change their display to suit the user’s device. The same content will look different on a laptop, tablet or smartphone. It should be easy to use on any of them.

Is Your Website Mobile-Friendly?

Easy Ways to Check

You can check your website by looking at pages, first on your laptop or desktop, then on a tablet and smartphone. They should respond well to the mouse on your static devices, and equally well to taps on touch-screens.

For a more thorough check, use just your lapfloating pane controltop by changing the width of your browser window. If you’re viewing full screen, click this button next to the Close button, top right.

This makes a smaller window that you can re-size by dragging the corners, sides, top or bottom. Hover your mouse over the right-hand edge of the change-window-widthwindow until you see a double-headed arrow, like this. Hold down the left mouse button and move it slowly to the left. See how (if at all) your web page changes its appearance as the width reduces.

If it isn’t mobile-friendly, and the right-hand side disappears, then you have work to do.

mobileAdGraphic480x240

Methods of Mobile-Friendly Implementation

For an example, try squeezing your browser window with this web page. As the device gets smaller, the browser gets narrower. See how:

  • three images re-size and drop one below the other;
  • then the images shrink to fit;
  • the width of the text reduces;
  • the menu, contact and user log in buttons change position;
  • the get in touch button remains visible always.

This is what’s known as a “Responsive” website. Word on the Digital Marketing block suggests that responsive sites will appear higher in search results than those using other methods. Google defines two more methods:

  1. “Dynamic serving”, where the server sends different HTML depending on the user’s device;
  2. “Separate URLs”, which requires owners to maintain two separate websites, one called www.example.com and the other, say, mob.example.com.

If you’re into the detail, see Google’s guide to mobile-friendly websites.

Mobile-friendly Web Page Tester

You can check any web page using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Testing tool. Just copy and paste any web address into it.

Google’s Webmaster Tools now have a Mobile Usability section. It tells you which pages on your site fail the test, and why.

example of a false positive result from Google's mobile-friendly testBeware of False Positives

Google’s tool can make mistakes. Here’s an example, the owner of which will remain nameless :-). Google thinks this home page “awesome” but actually isn’t.

You see their cookie policy warning; nothing else. This obviously works for googlebot, but isn’t much use to human visitors.

The web page uses a third-party cookie policy script that googlebot thinks is a whole page.

What to Do Next

There’s no need to panic. It’ll take a while for googlebot to crawl the entire world-wide web. And if your business doesn’t rely on Google searches, you can relax for longer. However, with more than half of all searches done from mobile devices, you’ll still want to make this change.

NB: this only affects mobile searches, your website should still look OK – and retain its position in search results – on static computers.

  1. Check your website using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Testing tool.
  2. Keep checking your position in search results on your mobile phone. Make sure you’re not logged into your Google account when you do this, as Google shows you what it thinks you want to see, not what a new visitor would see.
  3. Ask your web designer to make your website fully responsive. Make sure they fix the whole site, not just a few pages.

If they’re busy, there are some things you may be able to do yourself, using your own CMS, to tide you over. NB: you’ll still need to get the job done properly, as soon as you can.

  • make sure your fonts are big enough to be read easily on a smartphone;
  • don’t put touchable buttons or phone numbers too close together;
  • remove Flash animations, which are not supported on all mobile platforms.

If you want some help, give BlueTree a call. 0117 339 0095.

SEO Progress Report

SEO Progress Report

Well, it’s the beginning of September and we’ve moved from nowhere (i.e. not on the first 10 pages for our chosen keywords), to page 2 in less than a month.

bluetree s e o position chartWe’ve used SERPS position 100 to indicate that our site didn’t show up in the first 10 pages.

Position 1 is at the bottom, so the lower the better on the chart.

Note: we’re talking about “organic search,” the main results listing, not pay-per-click advertising.

How We Made Progress

This is all we did, really, to make this progress:

  1. For the last three or four months, we’ve been building content on our new website, not exposed to Google.
  2. We removed some irrelevant pages on a micro-site we’ve been hosting for a client.
  3. On 12 August, 2012, we submitted our website to Google.

That’s all. We did no page optimisation, no extra link-building. Nothing.

Why the Progress?

We’re testing our theories.

We believe Google wants to deliver the most relevant page in response to every search query. That’s the page the user thinks most relevant, not the one that a search engine optimisation team thinks.

There’s all sorts of SEO advice out there on the web, but we think we should listen to Google. They tell us to,

  • Make sure our websites are clean and tidy;
  • Follow the SEO Guidelines;
  • Deliver useful information;
  • Create good in-bound links with appropriate anchor text;
  • Make sure our pages load quickly;
  • Make a popular site…

And so it goes on. We’d normally address the first two points first, but thought it would be worth changing the sequence, to see what happens.

Well, quite a lot happened. We wouldn’t normally expect to leap up the scoreboard as fast as that. It confirms our theory that content counts for an awful lot, but there’s still some way to go.

In Our Next Report

Next we’re going to look at page load speed. Again, we wouldn’t usually address load speed now, but Google seems to be pushing it.

SEO Start

SEO Start Point

search engine start button

Search Engine Start

It’s hard to believe, but our website hasn’t changed much since 2006! We finally have a new, more mobile-friendly design and it’s time to introduce it to search engines.

Mid-August, 2012. This is the datum for our progress to SERPS (search engine results) page 1. Right now we’re nowhere: not visible anywhere on Google’s first 10 pages.

Our keyword targets are modest: website design or SEO or, maybe, website maintenance in our local area. We serve businesses around Portishead, so that’ll do to start with.

Our website has history from way back that means Google doesn’t see us as we now are: a website design company. More on this later perhaps.

SEO Research

We also want to treat this as an R&D exercise. We follow a set SEO procedure to get clients’ sites onto the first page in search results. Google is focusing more and more on quality content, so this time we’re going to change the sequence of the steps we follow. We’re starting with content, which our clients update themselves. Then we’ll address the more technical aspects, for which we earn a fee.

The Start

So, we really are starting on the back foot. Wish us luck!