avoid mistakes of mobile friendly web design
Unless you’ve been staying away from the Internet these last few weeks, you know that on April 21 Google is going to be rolling out a mobile optimization algorithm (and if you need more information, we’ve covered the announcement here). According to Google’s Zineb Ait Bahajji from the Webmaster Trends team, this is going to be one of the biggest updates we’ve seen from Google to date in terms of how many people will be affected — bigger than Panda and Penguin — although no specific number was given.
While April 21 is the day that’s since been labeled the “Mobile-Pocalypse,” it’s important that small businesses start putting mobile best practices into action immediately. The efforts you’re making now will matter come April 21, and if you wait until just a few days before, it could be too late. Fortunately, Google is making this update very easy for us by telling us exactly what mistakes most businesses are making when it comes to mobile.
The Most Common Mistakes Webmasters Make When Optimizing for Mobile application development
As discussed above, Google actually created a guide that outlines all of the most common mistakes that they find Webmasters make when they try and get their websites mobile-friendly. And so, without further ado, below are the top seven mistakes straight from the horse’s mouth along with links that take you to a full report for each specific point:
How to fix it: Use the Fetch as Google feature in Google Webmaster Tools so that you can see how a Google bot is seeing your content. You should also check your robots.txt in Google Webmaster Tools and test your mobile pages with the Mobile-Friendly Test. All three of these options will help you identify any indexing problems.
The last thing Google wants to see is a video that is unavailable to users because that is an annoying experience. Many content types, such as Flash, do not work on all mobile devices and therefore cause unplayable content.
How to fix it: Use HTML5 standard tags for animation and use video embedding that is playable on all devices. Google Web Designer can help make it easy to create animations in HTML 5 so that your content is more widely accessible.
This happens most often if you have separate mobile URLs because it forces you to redirect mobile users on each desktop URL to the right mobile URL. Unfortunately, many companies do this wrong and send every mobile user to the desktop homepage, for example, which is incorrect because that isn’t what the mobile user asked for when he/she clicked.
How to fix it: The solution here is easy: Use a responsive web design. This will automatically serve the same content for both desktop and smart phone users. You can also check the Smartphone Crawl Errors of your Webmaster Tools and you can simply see if any faulty redirects were detected.
Sometimes companies have their websites setup so that users can see a page on a desktop, but when they try to visit that same page on a mobile device there is a 404 error. The key here is to make sure that you have an identical page that can be served on mobile (see number 3 above) and then redirect users to that URL instead of serving a 404 error.
How to fix it: Check the Crawl Errors report in Webmaster Tools and look at the smart phone tab to see if any URLs are 404 errors. Once again, a responsive Web design should also fix this problem.
App Download Interstitials
If your business has a native app, it’s important that you make sure you don’t have any indexing issues when promoting that app. In other words, make sure that users can still see the page’s content and not just a large app advertisement. Visit the link above to see a great screenshot.
How to fix it: Use a simple banner to promote your app inline with the page’s content. Google recommends Smart App Banners for Safari to help.
It makes sense that if you have mobile URLs and separate desktop URLs to try and link to each on the opposite platform. Unfortunately, many companies are linking to URLs that are irrelevant, such as the homepage you would see on a desktop when someone is reading about a product on mobile.
How to fix it: Always check your links to make sure they’re pointing to the most relevant (or identical) pages!
Slow Mobile Pages
This one is pretty self-explanatory. If your pages are loading too slowly this is especially problematic for mobile search because people are usually on the go.
How to fix it: Use Google PageSpeed Insights to see not only what might be causing your pages to load slowly but how to fix the issues.
In the end, anything you hear from Google should be your first move. If you were unsure how to even begin preparing a mobile presence, start with the tips above and go down the list. Once you’ve fixed some of these common mistakes, you should be able to see clearly other things you can do to enhance your efforts. Do you have any thoughts on some of these tips from Google? Are you ready for the mobile update in April? Let us know in the comments below.