Google sends mobile usability warnings to countless webmasters

Even though 80 per cent of Internet users own a smartphone and are increasingly using their mobile device to access online content, there are many business that are still failing to recognise this growing trend. So much so that Google has sent out mobile usability warnings to a huge number of webmasters.

These mass scale notifications are being sent out via email and Webmaster Tools to warn non-mobile friendly sites that their search engine ranking will suffer if they do not cater for smartphone and tablet users.

Mobile usability warnings

These warnings contain the subject “fix mobile usability issues found on…” and then go on to explain the critical errors on 100 per cent of the pages. Once rectified, Google says your site will be “displayed and ranked appropriately for smartphone users.”

In addition to notification via email and Webmaster Tools, Google is also contacting sites that are simply not mobile friendly at all, which the webmaster will probably be aware of anyway.

Why is Google sending these notifications?

A new mobile ranking algorithm is about to launch and this is why Google has been sending out so many stark warnings. While Google disclosed that it was experimenting with this since November, the search engine giant also launched a mobile friendly testing tool, mobile usability reports in Google Webmaster Tools, and mobile-friendly labels in the search results.

As well as going beyond the broken mobile site penalty Google implemented in 2013, these notifications appear to be targeting those that know their sites aren’t friendly for smartphones and tablets. Some webmasters may be unaware that their mobile site doesn’t look good, but Google is taking a rather blanket approach.

Google has yet to confirm what is going on, but all signs seem to point towards a major change to its mobile algorithm.

Google’s advice to non-mobile friendly sites

Contained within Google’s notification, which discloses how many pages were tested and a percentage of critical mobile usability errors, is some advice on how to fix and rectify the issue. It says to:

  • Find problematic pages

“View a report of the non-mobile-friendly pages found on your site, and the issues discovered.”

  • Learn about mobile-friendly design

“There are a variety of techniques you can use to make your site mobile-friendly. Specifically, look for information about the issues brought up in Webmaster Tools.”

  • Fix mobile usability issues on your site

“Fix the issues preventing your site from being mobile-friendly.”

For webmasters that build their site with software like WordPress or Joomla, Google has provided a link to some steps for making a CMS mobile-friendly. The warning also contains a link to its Developer site for building-friendly websites as well as the opportunity to ask questions about this update in Google’s Webmaster Central Forum.

There is little to no doubt that mobile users will become top priority for several brands and business, but it seems as though Google wants to create a level playing field for those who haven’t recognised its significance yet.

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