Two Google Tools to Ensure You Have a Mobile-Friendly Website
By Mike Krass on March 30, 2015
For the TL;DR crowd: This story discusses a few ways to use Google Analytics and Google’s Developer sandbox to ensure your website is mobile friendly.
h2>Why do you need a mobile friendly website?</h2>
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past month, you’ve probably heard the official announcement from Google’s webmaster team:
Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results.
(source: Webmaster Central Blog)
In plain English: Google is updating their algorithms on April 21, 2015, to begin showing mobile-friendly websites more frequently on search engine results pages (SERP’s) while pushing down mobile un-friendly (is that a term, now?) websites in their search rankings.
Sites that are officially deemed mobile friendly will carry the follow indicator on SERP’s.
So how can marketers, SEO’s and webmasters go about making sure that their websites are optimized for mobile visitors?
There are two exercises our team uses to figure this out.
Using Google Analytics to Measure Mobile Site Performance
While Google Analytics can be used a bunch of different ways, we like to look at mobile traffic as a segment and analyze the Page Speed Suggestions.
The video below summarizes how to get there:
For those who didn’t watch the video, here is a step-by-step guide:
- Change the Google Analytics segment to 'mobile traffic'
- Navigate to 'Behavior', then to 'Site Speed' and finally to 'Speed Suggestions'
- Every URL Google Analytics is present on your website will appear here. Additionally, the column on the far right labeled 'Page Speed Suggestions' will open a pop-up analysis of that specific URL and provide desktop as well as mobile instructions to improve the user experience.
Using Google Developer Tools to Determine if You Have a Mobile-Friendly Website
This feature is super handy at the individual URL level. For marketers who want to see a complete website grading in one place, Google recommends using their Mobile Friendly Test web application.
Take a look at me using the web-friendly test application to grade our old website, mkgmediagroup.com:
Last But Not Least: Mobile-Friendly Benefits for SEO
We discussed the benefits of a mobile-friendly website at length during our latest Google Analytics meet up.
Take a read through the transcript from that meet up to glean some additional insights from a few front-end web developers.
Mike: They also have the ability to be. You can also use, through the developers; this is actually URL if you go to dev.google.com. You can just plug in, literally, any URL and this is where you begin to get that score for each page of one to a hundred. And what’s nice is they also do the difference between mobile and desktop, which obviously is a big difference.
Max: Yup. Right.
Mike: But Google Analytics, you place some body element of your page to begin with. So it’s like, “You should run a sprint. But you should wear a business suit…”
Mike: …and you should beat everyone else while you wear this business suit.” There is ways you can code around that, but it’s “take it with a grain of salt” scenario.
Max: It doesn’t really matter.
Mike: Yeah. The big things we see here are image compression. A lot of people will, sure as you know, load up ginormous images on their site, and then it takes forever to load. It also will funk with you on mobile devices.
Rob: Even with a say an image in Photoshop or whatever something like that is standard practice, you can still compress by additional 20 to 80% on most images. Use a sort of backend that you’ll do a really good job with that. But it always tells us that imagine optimizations can always be better.
Mike: Yeah. And then some basic browser caching which is really standard, but you can tweak stuff. And then cascading style scripts always give this speed tracker a hard time. It always comes up with some reason why your CSS is crap and you should change it. [laughs]
Max: Right, always the case. Yeah.