Is your website truly mobile-ready? Though responsive design is undoubtedly a big deal, there is no one aspect of a website that will make it entirely “mobile-friendly.” The modern website needs to be well-optimized, fast, user-friendly and technologically consistent if it is to both achieve search engine relevance and provide the best user experience.

fetchasgoogle1. Use Fetch as Google to Identify Any Access Problems

Tool: Fetch as Google

Google doesn’t necessarily see your website the same way that a visitor does. Google reviews your website with the “Googlebot,” also known as a web crawler. Occasionally, Google might be blocked from accessing certain parts of your site, usually through your robots.txt file. Fetch as Google will show you what your website actually looks like to the search engine.

Commonly, images, JavaScript, CSS or other formatting files might be blocked to the Googlebot. Some webmasters do this intentionally to reduce bandwidth and file transfers — though it’s really a legacy technique that is no longer necessary for most site environments.

Troubleshooting Fetch as Google

googlemobilefriendly2. Conduct a Mobile-Friendly Test

Tool: Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test

There’s no need to panic about mobile-friendly support; it’s actually very easy to determine whether your site is seen as mobile-friendly by Google. You just have to run their test, which is accessible both to the public and as a part of Google’s webmaster toolkit. Remember, though, that this just indicates that Google sees your website as mobile-friendly. It says nothing about how user-friendly your website actually is; for that, you need to conduct further cross-platform tests.

A mobile-friendly test is also critical for those who want to ensure that their search engine rankings are not hampered on mobile devices by Google’s new mobile-friendly measures. When Google says that they are promoting mobile-friendly links on their mobile search engine results page, this is the criteria that they are using.

Troubleshooting the Mobile-Friendly Test

renderblocking3. Run a Page Speed Test

Tool: Google’s Page Speed Insights | ySlow

Mobile users are generally more patient than desktop users, often waiting between 6 to 10 seconds for a mobile page to load. This can lead one to presume that page speed isn’t as important for mobile users. But mobile users are more patient because mobile connections are usually slower. If your website loads in two to three seconds on a desktop device, it will likely load much longer on some cellular data connections. In the best case scenario — a high speed Internet connection at home — you should try your best to ensure that your page is loaded in two seconds or less.

Troubleshooting Your Page Speed Test

mobiready4. Compare Your Site Cross-Platform

Tool: mobiReady |

As mentioned, a website can be marked as mobile-friendly in Google but still not present as a standardized or easy to navigate web experience. Users today may be using any one of literally hundreds of platform combinations. Tablets, smartphones, iOS, Android — your user’s browsing environment could cause your site to break. The easiest way to ensure this doesn’t happen is to conduct a cross-platform test, which will emulate how your website looks on different devices, browsers and operating systems.

Troubleshooting Your Cross-Platform Test

The modern emphasis on mobile-friendly site design is an opportunity for any conscientious digital marketer and web developer. Mobile-friendly design may seem intimidating at first, but it’s actually fairly easy to achieve with the right tools, such as the above. Creating a truly mobile-ready website is just another way that a designer or marketer can differentiate their web property from the competition.

You may have noticed that many of these tools are provided through Google’s own webmaster tools. If you aren’t already doing so, paying attention to your Google Webmaster center is one of the best things you can do to ensure the overall quality of your site — not just its mobile optimization. For as much guesswork as we perform every day as designers and developers, Google actually presents quite a bit of information to us directly.

Jenna Inouye
Jenna I. is a freelance writer, programmer and web developer, focusing on the areas of digital marketing, technology, gaming and finance. Hire Jenna through WriterAccess or contact her directly.

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