Google penalises sites that aren’t “mobile-friendly”

As of today (21st April 2015) Google will be actively penalising websites that aren’t what they call “mobile-friendly”.

Back in November 2014 Google announced that it was adding a “mobile-friendly” label to mobile web searches. This was to ensure that mobile users could choose to view content that was suitable for small screens using a touch interface.

Since then Google has been contacting website owners and administrators advising them to update their sites so that they are “mobile-friendly”. Now they’ve taken action, and are using the “mobile-friendly” label as an active ranking signal.

This means that if your site isn’t mobile friendly, it’s likely to start dropping down the rankings, if it hasn’t already.

If your site does have the mobile-friendly label, then you’re likely to see your search ranking improve.

What does “mobile-friendly” mean?

In Google’s words:

A page is eligible for the “mobile-friendly” label if it meets the following criteria as detected by Googlebot:

  • Avoids software that is not common on mobile devices, like Flash
  • Uses text that is readable without zooming
  • Sizes content to the screen so users don’t have to scroll horizontally or zoom
  • Places links far enough apart so that the correct one can be easily tapped
Source: http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/helping-users-find-mobile-friendly-pages.html

There’s a really easy way to test if your site meets the”mobile-friendly” criteria, and that is to use Google’s “Mobile Friendly Test”.

What does this mean for WordPress sites?

WordPress websites aren’t implicitly mobile friendly or not, it largely depends on the theme that you are using.

If you are using a theme from the theme repository, or a premium theme that you purchased, check if there is an update to the theme available. Always back up your site before updating!

Many people have custom built themes, or third-party themes that have been customised. If this is the case you will need to contact a developer to help you to convert your theme to a responsive layout.

I recently did this for the http://langleystudentaccommodation.com/ website that I built over three years ago. The conversion took about 2.5 days.

Google have created a guide specifically for WordPress websites here: https://developers.google.com/webmasters/mobile-sites/website-software/wordpress.

Act now to avoid penalties

If you only take away one thing from this post – test your website using Google’s tool.

If you find that your websites isn’t mobile friendly get it fixed as soon as you can.

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