Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Are your sites mobile friendly - or are you facing Mobilegeddon?

Yesterday mobilegeddon was supposed to happen - here's why:
  • Did you know that some 30% of all search queries now come from mobile devices (smartphones and tablets)?
  • Google has said that it expects overall search queries on mobile devices to exceed PC volumes this year
  • Did you know that Google made a change yesterday which now favours webpages which are mobile friendly for smartphones (i.e. you can read and navigate them easily)?
  • Are you monitoring the traffic to your websites and blogs to see if the change has an impact on your sites?

Mobile is tomorrow

Well actually the big change was yesterday - but you know what I mean - we can't get away from mobile it's here to stay!

The importance of mobile devices has been growing year by year, quarter by quarter and month by month.  It's expected that by 2018 a third of the world's consumers will own a smartphone and buy/consume using it.

More importantly Google has been losing out to Facebook re its advertising income and needs to make websites more mobile friendly to get it back again!

So, bottom line, Google figures it's now essential that mobile friendliness is reflected in how it ranks websites in response to search queries. It wants its search queries to be satisfying its customers.

Yesterday Google rolled out a technical change to their search engine which means that - from now - all sites which are mobile compatible will get an uplift in search rankings.

You can read more about it  on the Official Google Webmaster Central Blog

Google also offers some extra help
To get help with making a mobile-friendly site, check out our guide to mobile-friendly sites. If you’re a webmaster, you can get ready for this change by using the following tools to see how Googlebot views your pages:
  • If you have a site, you can use your Webmaster Tools account to get a full list of mobile usability issues across your site using the Mobile Usability Report.
PLUS, yesterday it reiterated
To check if your site is mobile-friendly, you can examine individual pages with the Mobile-Friendly Test or check the status of your entire site through the Mobile Usability report in Webmaster Tools. If your site’s pages aren’t mobile-friendly, there may be a significant decrease in mobile traffic from Google Search. But have no fear, once your site becomes mobile-friendly, we will automatically re-process (i.e., crawl and index) your pages. You can also expedite the process by using Fetch as Google with Submit to Index, and then your pages can be treated as mobile-friendly in ranking.
As a result of this switch to favouring mobile friendly websites Google Says There Are 4.7% More Mobile-Friendly Websites Today Than Two Months Ago

It's important to note that this change will not affect the ranking of websites based on a desk-based search. However the ranking results from a mobile-based search are now likely to be completely different - and will become more and more important as ownership and use of mobile devices grows and grows.

If you think this doesn't affect you because your site hasn't got much mobile traffic.....

Has it occurred to you that your site hasn't got much mobile traffic BECAUSE if's not compatible with mobile devices?

Have you asked friends with sites which are mobile compatible what percentage of their traffic comes from mobile devices?

So how is it for you?

So if like me you've got a website which works fine on an iPad Mini. This is my portfolio site Pastels and Pencils

but that same website looks completely different on an iPhone - even my iPhone 6+

I might see the whole page but I can't read it easily
If I turn it into landscape Format on my iPhone 6+ it's better - but still not ideal.
The main text is still very small and more of the "above the fold" territory is lost to site
then, like me, you have a problem which needs to be solved.

Especially if your website does really weird things to the size of some of the images on my website when the space has been specified by pixel size rather than percentage!!

Essentially this change relates to smartphones rather than tablets - as the FAQs make clear. 

However my view is that if you are having to tackle mobile friendliness from scratch you need to tackle both the iPad/Tablet view as well as the Smartphone view.

How to become mobile friendly

The main way to become mobile friendly is to switch to a responsive template.

Blogging and Blogger

On Blogger I don't have a problem with this blog because I've got the settings set up so it delivers a mobile template version of my blog.

Blogger Mobile template on my iPhone
This is the posts view
- easy to scroll through quickly
Which points up the importance of
titles and the first sentence
(click for a larger view)

Blogger Mobile template on my iPhone
A post opened up

Key points to note
  • Hamburger website top left in the post view takes you straight to the blog post. This then and allows you to change the size of the text to suit you
  • The down arrow on the right allows access to the Blogger Pages Menu (scroll through)
  • What disappears is the WHOLE of the right hand column!  That means a lot less traffic for those who get visits from people clicking blogs in the right hand column. I'm moving some of the content up into the Pages - because at least they're accessible!

To get a mobile version of your blog in Blogger what you have to do is:
  1. GO TO: The Template Page and click the 'flower' icon underneath Mobile
  2. Select "Yes" to show a mobile template on mobile devices and SAVE
  3. Choose which mobile template you want to use - click "default" to see the alternative options or customise an option.  It shows you what they look like with your blog.

Select "Yes" for the Mobile template - and you're sorted!
Then choose the template
For Wordpress: there are plugins and other people more knowledgeable than me as to which is best and how they work.

Websites and Responsive Templates

I've been building my new websites using Weebly and their responsive templates.  So here's my latest Botanical Art and Artists in the same views.

As you can see the situation on the iPad Mini is pretty similar, it's easy to see the website.  It's even easier if
  • you make sure you use a template which has the menu at the top.  
  • add links to key pages into the footer as I have done
This Weebly template (altered by me) - with a top menu
gives me a much better view of the website
for reviewing or showing to other people
The responsive template improves the tablet view and the smartphone view - using the standard "hamburger" menu at top left - which then slides across when you tap it.

In a responsive template images are also automatically resized according to the space available.  In other words the template for the website behaves in a way not unlike the one being used for this blog.

Using a Smartphone it's really easy to read the website
and even easier if you you use the "zoomed" setting
rather than the standard view in display 'view' settings

One thing I've learned is that it's a good idea to have a long hard think about font size - or make sure you are using a template which allows people to change font size.

Do you know whether or not your websites are compatible? 

Have you viewed them on a tablet and/or smartphone?

If you haven't changed them you will lose traffic from mobile devices as a result. That is a certainty.

If you haven't changed yet you are in good company - apparently an awful lot of the Fortune 500 companies have not yet got themselves sorted!

I've still got to sort out my oldest sites - so where are you up to?

Check your sites

Things you can do right now

If you've not got a smartphone I suggest you borrow one from a friend and see what your site looks like

Alternatively - for a much faster result with recommendations and links to pages which will be helpful I suggest you use the Google Mobile-Friendly Test which has become much improved in terms of telling you what to do next.

The image to the right is what you want to see - not the one with lots of red crosses

If you use Google Webmaster Tools then you can check out mobile usability issues - it's a menu option under Search Traffic

If you're using Statcounter then you can check out the browser section to see what proportion of traffic is coming from ipads and mobile browsers.

You should see somewhere between 25 and 30% of traffic minimum coming from mobile devices. If you don't your website or blog definitely needs fixing sooner rather than later.

If you're used to hard coding your site I'd ask you whether you seriously want to continue with all the time and effort required to keep up with technological developments. Or do you think you might be better off using a site which does it all for you - and not necessarily for very much cash (e.g. can you afford $4 per month?) and focusing more of your attention on the content.

Plus Blogger is still completely free!


loriann signori said...

Excellent post Katherine! While my website was already mobile friendly, my blog needed an update. Thanks for the information and the easy the follow instructions! Your blog is truly an asset to all artists!

loriann signori said...

Hi Katherine!

Thank you for the informative post. While my website was mobile friendly, my blog needed an update. Thank you for the information and the easy to follow instructions. Your blog is truly an asset to all artists!

Michael Chesley Johnson said...

It's too bad that Google makes us run through all these hoops. Back in the good old days, B.G. (Before Google), if you designed a reasonably clear and functional website, indexing worked just fine. Then Google came along and people found they needed to do "keyword stuffing," which makes text sound awfully redundant. Then Google started dinging people for doing that, and -- well, the history is there for anyone to read. Now we need to make our websites mobile-friendly. As someone who has always done his own web work himself, I don't have time to redesign my websites. Nor do I have the finances to pay for a redesign. But I suppose now I'll have to find time or money...

David J Teter said...

Hi Katherine and thanks. You do help simplify what can be confusing.
I am generally fine since I am on blogger. I checked the mobile template. But as you say the mobile eliminates the whole right column.
Does thast mean it is not anywhere on the mobile version or just not easy accessible?

If so should I move at least the important links into a pages tab so it is accessible on mobile version?
I don't have a smart phone so I can't easily check.

Thank you.

Rolina said...

Oh wow, I had no idea! Thanks so much for your helpful advice, my blog was OK, but the website needed a minor tweak and now it is fine.

I really appreciate you bringing this to our attentiion!

northwoods trekker said...

thanks so much for posting this. This info. is extremely helpful. I yes it appears my blog posts were set to be mobile friendly (I didn't know this until I read this post).

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