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"Fix Mobile Usability Issues" Warnings Sent Out by Google

Go Responsive or Face Lower Website Rankings

We've been talking about this a long time, it seems and it's now getting real:

Google Sending Mobile Usability Warnings To Huge Number Of Webmasters (searchengineland.com)

Google sending notifications to webmasters with sites that are not mobile friendly. Is this a sign of a new mobile algorithm coming soon?

Google is sending mass notifications to webmasters who has websites that are not mobile-friendly. These notifications contain the subject “fix mobile usability issues found on…” It then goes on to explain that these sites have critical mobile usability errors on 100% of the pages on the site and thus the pages will be “displayed and ranked appropriately for smartphone users.”

These notifications are being sent via Google Webmaster Tools and via email. It is also being sent to sites that are simply not mobile friendly at all and typically, the webmasters know their sites are not mobile friendly. What we have here is Google reminding these webmasters their sites are not mobile-friendly and issuing a warning that the pages won’t rank well in mobile search.

There are clear signs that a new mobile ranking algorithm is about to launch at Google. Google told us they are experimenting with it since November. They also launched a mobile friendly testing tool, mobile usability reports in Google Webmaster Tools, and mobile-friendly labels in the search results.

Now is not the time to go with responsive design... that time was actually a year ago!

There was a great opportunity to get your website design changed over to be responsive where it provides the best user experience for people using mobile devices (smart phones, tablets, etc.) where you could have ranked higher, above your competition but by now, many websites have been converted over and now there's more competition. The opportunity is now not as great but you're now faced with the choice to convert your website now or find your website getting ranked lower and lower very soon.

Heed the Warning

Google is sending out the warning now, so if you haven't converted to responsive design yet, you still can before major penalties start flying.

Google Sending Mass Scale Warnings To Non-Mobile Friendly Web Sites (seroundtable.com)

This is the first time Google is sending these notifications to these webmasters. We reported on this last week but I thought that site had a mobile design and had issues with it. The truth is, the site was not mobile friendly at all and now many sites like this are in the same boat.

Typically, Google only notified sites that were supposedly mobile friendly, when it has mobile usability issues. But now, it seems like the algorithm they may have been testing around mobile ranking might be going into affect in the near future.

For Google to send out these warnings in mass scale, it kind of implies this might be coming.

What Does Going to Responsive Design Mean?

Good question - we're glad we asked!

It's Not Just Adding a Mobile Template

With a mobile template, there's a bit of code that checks what kind of device is being used to view the website. It has to check the device manufacturer and model number. If the device is on the list in the code, then the mobile version gets shown.

This kind of works but not really - there are some disadvantages.

One disadvantage is that it's another version of your website. That's how Google might see it, at least. It could be viewed as duplicate content and you could get a penalty for that (the existence of this penalty is up for debate). This is because different URLs (web page addresses) are being used.

With responsive, all URLs stay the same. Google loves this.

Another disadvantage is that if the device list is not kept up to date, everything sort of falls apart. New devices come out all the time. Sometimes, the same mobile phone manufacturer makes the same device for different carriers but they're slightly different cosmetically and they end up having different model numbers. If the list of devices is not up to date, then any device not on that list will see the non-mobile (desktop) version of the website. This isn't consistent.

With responsive, it'll work on whatever size screen the website is being viewed on.

Is a Website Redesign Needed?

Maybe... probably.

Look at it this way... design has changed, right? It's more flat now. If you're going to invest in going mobile responsive, you might as well do a redesign at the same time. It's more work but it's worth doing now rather than 6 months or a year down the road.

Also, your existing design simply might not one that can be converted to responsive. This happens.

With a website redesign, you can either go with a nice website template or else go with custom website design and start from scratch.

What Should You Do?

The worst thing to do right now is wait longer. Your competition is probably already in the middle of a website conversion to responsive and it'll launch soon. When it does, they'll get a slight boost in rankings - especially if the person going to the website is using a mobile device. We've seen this already. In a short time, this boost will be even bigger.

Contact us and get a quote on a new website that uses responsive design, one that is built right with SEO in mind and one that's easy to maintain and operate. You'll be proud to give out your website address to your prospective customers knowing that with whatever device they use, it'll look good!

-Tony

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