Today Google announced the introduction of their new mobile usability tool. The mobile usability tool is located in Google Webmaster Tools and its purpose is to evaluate the structure of your site in order to determine whether or not it meets the criteria established by Google.
Having a website that is optimized for mobile users is a necessity in today’s marketplace where 50% of all searches are done on mobile devices and 78% of those product or service related searches on mobile result in a sale (when the user is searching while on the go).
It is true that web design has already shifted toward being mobile friendly, especially with the introduction of “responsive” websites are supposed to adapt themselves automatically to the screen they are viewed on. However, until now there has not really been much in the way of 3rd party testing tools to determine whether or not your responsive website is actually being perceived as mobile friendly by Google search. By introducing the Mobile Usability Tool Google has set the benchmark that your website has to meet in order to be considered truly mobile friendly and earn the “mobile friendly” designation in Google search results on mobile devices.
If it seems like Google is constantly putting up one hoop after another for website owners to jump through just remember that their goal is to provide the best experience possible for users of Google search. As a business owner you know the importance of producing or selling the best quality product possible and it is no different for Google. It is the thing that has enabled Google to become the largest and most used search engine in the world.
To access the Mobile Usability Tool your website must be connected to Google Webmaster Tools. Assuming that it is, go to Google webmaster tools>>search traffic>>mobile usability. Since the tool is so new there is a chance that you will get the message “Google has not yet processed your site. Be sure to check all site variants”. If this is the case you can still do a somewhat ad-hoc test of your site by simply doing a Google search for your business on your smartphone.
If you see the “mobile friendly” designation on your listing in Google search (as in the image above) then it is probably safe to assume that Google deems your site mobile friendly. If you do not see the mobile friendly designation then there is a good chance that your site does not meet the criteria.
Just because you have a site that features a responsive design does not mean that it is truly mobile friendly. Even if it seems to adapt to screen size pretty well and looks “ok” on a smartphone that is not enough. Do yourself a favor and check your site out now so that you are ahead of the curve and can make whatever adjustments need to be made in order to make your site mobile friendly.
Fortunately the requirements for making a site mobile friendly are not as elusive as those for making your site an SEO champion. Google lists the requirements for a site to be mobile friendly on this page. The criteria are not that complex and, according to Google; “sometimes it’s just a matter of tweaking your site’s template”. Of course if you are not well versed in web design this may be something that you will not be able to tackle on your own.
The shift to mobile web browsing on smartphones has already happened. It is a choice that was made by consumers as they adapted the power of mobile computing via smartphones into their daily lives. Google recognized this trend and has been working hard to transform many of the services that they offer to be more geared toward a good mobile experience for the end user. This is true of general mobile browsing as well as app specific elements. Fortunately they are producing things like the Mobile Usability Tool to make it easier for business owners to take advantage of this new trend in consumer behavior.
If you have any questions please leave a comment below or call or email and we will try to find you an answer. In addition Google offers many places to get help with technical questions via web based forums and communities on Google+ such as the Google Small Business Community where I am one of their Advisors. We are over 120,000 members strong in the GSBC and there are Advisors, Googlers (Google employees) and other community members who are willing to answer your questions and help you find solutions to any problems.