Everybody is talking about the Google’s upcoming algorithm update. Every time it happens there is a natural tension and panic that spreads along with it. With the last 2 algorithm updates, we have heard horror stories of sites getting kicked out from the front page of search results. Things like that can put a big dent on your business. What is different this time? Well, this time mighty Google is using mobile friendliness of our site as a ranking parameter. This shouldn’t really come as a surprise as the number of people accessing web via mobile devices have increased to an extent that it has actually tilted the scale. Right now the mobile internet users simply outnumber the desktop internet users.
That brings in the question of how good is your website on a mobile browser? Does it load fast enough? Is the text readable on the mobile device? Does the content overflow the mobile viewport? These are important questions you have to ask and find the answers to confirm that your site is ready for the Google update.
How to test your site for mobile friendliness?
If your website is build on a responsive framework, then you are most probably safe, and if you are running the site on a fixed width template from 5 years back, then you are not safe for sure. But nothing can be conclusive as putting the site under a test for mobile friendliness. There are certain online tools you can use for this purpose. The most important one would be the Google’s own Mobile friendly test . You can open the test page and enter your site url and then hit analyze button.
The results are binary. Your site will be either mobile friendly or not mobile friendly. There is no such thing as 60% or 90% mobile friendly.
For non mobile friendly sites the result will come with a list of issues that contributed to the test failure. You can use these as pointers to make your site mobile friendly.
What can be done to make your site mobile friendly?
Though this could be a question for websites in general, here we would concentrate primarily on WordPress based websites. Let me list down few things we can do to make our site mobile friendly.
1. Use responsive WordPress themes
For WordPress sites, it is the theme that defines the mobile friendliness. So most easy way to make your site mobile friendly is to use a mobile friendly theme. Such themes are often called Responsive themes. They will be built based on responsive grids or they will have special media query calls to modify the layout to adjust with the mobile view-port.
2. Mobile theme plugins
If your WordPress site is built on a non responsive theme and if it is too much work to migrate the content to a responsive theme, you can rely on Mobile theme plugins. These are WordPress theme that will render a mobile friendly output of your website when accessed via a mobile device. Few such plugins are
WPtouch – A very popular mobile suite for WordPress. It has a free version and Paid addons are also available.
Wp smart Mobile – Another WordPress plugin that makes your site ready for mobile devices.
Mobile detector – A plugin that loads theme depending upon the devise.
Wp mobile edition – It automatically detects whether the visitor to the site is mobile or not, and switches between the primary WordPress theme (for desktop users) or loads a mobile theme
3. Mobile subdomain redirect
Though I would not recommend it , his technique is used on many websites. When accessed on a mobile device, the visitor will be redirected to a sub-domain of the main site where a mobile friendly version of the main site is hosted. I am unaware of the SEO side effects that could arise from this method. Someone who has knowledge in that area could shed some light on it.
All these are few quick pointers towards making your site mobile friendly. Please test your website and make the necessary changes required. Google has set a timer till April 21, 2015 before algorithm changes takes effect.