On April 21, 2015, Google is making a change. A really big one. On that date, Google’s ranking formula will begin to consider how friendly or unfriendly the mobile version of your website is. Sites that are not mobile-friendly (meaning smartphone and tablet users are treated to a subpar experience) will see their rankings in Google drop or disappear beginning on April 21.
As Google itself has stated, “This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results.”
Despite the buzz, it’s important to keep in mind Google’s mobile update may actually have little or no effect on your specific business.
One of the keys to determining how much your business will be impacted by this change is to test if your website is mobile friendly.
Two Ways to Test the Mobile-Friendliness of Your Website — Without Having To Call In Your Tech Team
First, an important note:
It’s important to test if your entire website is mobile friendly, not just your home page. That includes all non-gated website pages, landing pages, microsites, etc. (Non-gated refers to content that does not require a password to view. Google’s change will not impact gated content — for example, an extranet website that’s tied to your main website, or password-protected blog content. This is because naturally Google cannot access gated content (it does not have a username/password to get at it), so gated content/pages would not rank to begin with.)
Now let’s get started.
1. The 5-Second Browser Pinching Test
Open up your home page in a browser on your computer. Then, using your mouse, drag in the right side of the browser window until you cannot drag it anymore. See images below.
If your home page appears like the image below — you can see the page in its entirety, nothing appears cut off, elements on the page stack beautifully — your home page is mobile friendly.
If, however, your home page appears like the image below — the page appears cut off, you have to zoom in/out to see the whole page — your home page is not mobile friendly.
2. The 30-Second Google Mobile-Friendliness Tool Test
Can you believe that Google has a tool that anyone can use to test the mobile-friendliness of any web page? It’s very easy to use and delivers a verdict in about 30 seconds.
Again, besides your home page, be sure to do this test for other pages within your website to determine their mobile-friendliness.
Here’s the caveat about the two non-techie testing options above — sometimes they don’t catch everything.
That’s where Google Webmaster Tools (GWT) comes in. Using GWT to test whether your website is mobile friendly takes only about 5 minutes. The test checks your entire website (instead of you testing a page at a time) and provides a more conclusive answer.
Here’s where it gets a little techie — you first have to set up a GWT account, and that set-up may require some help from your web or tech team. It is by no means a heavy lift. Just point them to this article by Google on how to set your Webmaster Tools account.
What if the tests determine that your website is not mobile friendly?
Can the problems be fixed? Yes. But the better question is what will be the impact if you don’t fix them before April 21st? Here’s the good news – You might find that having a non-mobile-friendly website won’t actually make any difference for your business on April 21st.