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How to Assess Mobile Usability With Google Webmaster Tools

Written by Alfredo C. on . Posted in Marketing, Mobile, Technology

Google Webmaster Tools

Google Webmaster Tools

Due to the ease and widespread growth of mobile devices, Google has made mobile usability a major priority. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, since one of Google’s policies is to maintain efficient service in the delivery of information, especially in search results (if a user does a mobile search that hits a site not compatible with the device, the user will promptly leave the page and most likely try again from another search engine). Because of this, Google saw itself forced to change its ranking algorithm.

This would supposedly guarantee an optimal experience on all sites that are compatible with mobile (visually and functionally speaking). In this article, we will go over and explain some of the most common problems and learn how to assess them.

Let’s begin with this example, the search results below, where Google has indicated the site of Alcance Media Group as mobile-friendly, followed by other sites that lack this label and fall to the bottom of the ranking of search results given.

Mobile-friendly search results

Mobile-friendly search results

Finding mobile compatibility issues with Google Webmaster Tools

In order to test your website, first you need to access Google Webmaster Tools. If this is your first time doing so, start a session with your Google account, and if you are already a user you can skip these two instructions:

  1. Go to the Webmaster Tools page and you will see a space to paste your URL address. Then, select “Add a site”.
  2. Then you will have to verify the website using one of the alternatives that Google will give you: uploading an HTML file to your website, adding a target label, or accessing your provider with domain names.

After configuring these elements on your website, you may not see all of the data on the interface for a few days. Including a sitemap could help speed up the process of tracking and indexing.

You will find the “Mobile Usability” section in “Search Traffic” in the navigation menu on the left. This will show you the errors, if there are any. Click on any of the error categories to see the specific URLs indicated for each one.

Webmaster Tools Site Error

Webmaster Tools Site Error

Google shows six main categories for mobile compatibility problems:

  1. Use of Flash (it doesn’t show correctly on most mobile devices).
  2. Not having a configured viewport (which means that that website is not scaling correctly to the device size)
  3. Fixed-width viewport (refers to pages creates to show a specific pixel width. This is a problem when a site doesn’t scale correctly to an unexpected screen size)
  4. Content that is not dimensioned for the viewport (indicates that users with a small screen will have to scroll around in the browser to see content)
  5. Small source size (text is too small to read easily on a page)
  6. Clickable elements are too close (a user might have difficulty selecting certain content, search elements, or field forms if they are too small and jammed next to other elements that you might click by mistake)

In order to resolve any of these problems, search the URL addresses that have been highlighted and you should be able to determine which edit or setting you need to make.

Don’t wait for Google to collect and tell you about all the potential problems with mobile usability. The fact that there are no errors does not guarantee that your website will come up or display correctly on all mobile devices. Put your website to the test with multiple devices and browsers to ensure a positive experience with download speed, appearance, and interactivity. In addition, check mobile metrics on Google Analytics to detect other potential problems.

The Google Webmaster Tools are a useful starting point for analyzing mobile matters on your webpage. If you receive warnings, don’t ignore them. Take time to look at the problems and identify opportunities to improve the ease of mobile use on your website.

This post is also available in: Spanish

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Alfredo C.

Born in Havana, Cuba. Bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design and a Master’s degree in Web Design and Development.

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