Google Mobile-Friendly Test: What You Should Know

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Originally published Jun. 16, 2015, updated Aug. 23, 2018.

It’s 2019, and mobile development is shooting to the top of everyone’s priority list (if it wasn’t already there). A strong mobile presence is absolutely mandatory for companies who want to stay competitive.

Consumers now spend most of their media time on mobile, and 92% of those who search for something on their smartphone will make a related purchase. Even local businesses need to go mobile: 78% of local searches result in a purchase within 24 hours.

There’s also the matter of search rankings. 67% of site visits go to the top five search results, and only 5% of searchers click to the second page. Businesses need to win those higher rankings to attract eyes to their pages.

That won’t happen without being mobile friendly, at least not since Google updated their ranking criteria to analyze mobile sites before desktop.

Enter the Google Mobile-Friendly Test. If your mobile site can’t pass it – or worse, you’re still using flash- you’ll potentially be losing out on the 96% of mobile search traffic driven by Google. Here’s what you need to know to stay on top.

What is the Google Mobile-Friendly Test?

The Google Mobile Friendly Test is a tool that allows companies to type in their URL and find out how mobile-friendly Google thinks their site is. It measures how easily users can access, read, and navigate the site on mobile devices, with a pass-fail score and suggestions for improvement.

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Google drew a lot of ire from developers for inaccurate failing grades after the test’s launch in 2015. Critics pointed out that the tool had a hard time understanding JavaScript and would downgrade pages that loaded quickly on technicalities.

Google responded with a series of updates, including one in early 2018 that vastly improves the way the test handles JavaScript sites.

What Does It Look For?

In order to be considered mobile friendly, a website needs to load quickly and evenly across a wide range of devices and signal conditions. The Google Mobile Friendly Test looks for issues that prevent this, such as:

Flash

Most mobile browsers don’t support Flash. Because mobile users won’t see that content, they can’t access the full site.

Viewport issues 

If the viewport isn’t configured to adjust for screen size or is fixed-width, it won’t display properly on all mobile devices.

Horizontal scrolling

This is not a natural movement. Vertical scrolling has become the standard on mobile, as well as desktop.

Content doesn’t scale

Mobile sites shouldn’t be identical to desktop, but smaller. The content should adjust to the screen size when viewed on mobile.

Unsuitable font or text

Text should be clearly legible on a small screen without zooming in.

Touch elements are too close

Buttons and links should be far enough apart to be easily usable by human fingers without the risk of accidentally hitting the wrong link.

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Alternatives to the Google Mobile Friendly Test

Google’s tool is one to watch, since it reveals how Google sees the site. However, there are other popular tools that help fine-tune a site’s mobile performance.

  • BrowserStack: This powerful tool for testing mobile design creates screenshots of how a page looks on every device. The downside is that it loads a little slowly. Also, it’s a paid service (though it offers a lot of features for the subscription price).  
  • Keynote MITE: The free version of MITE offers a grade, like the Google Mobile Friendly Test, while higher subscription levels have an expanded suite of tools.
  • W3 MobileOK Checker: Free and open source mobile tests will always have a place in development. This one not only identifies problems but separates them by severity and category.

Dealing With A Failing Score

A “not mobile-friendly” rating should be a wake-up call. It doesn’t just mean the site won’t rate well. It means visitors who DO get there will have a bad experience.

Users are five times more likely to abandon a site that isn’t optimized for mobile. Worse yet, because most mobile searches have timely intent, an unoptimized site can funnel customers straight to mobile-friendly competitors.

Mobile App Development Company in Orlando

Take the list of issues from the Google Mobile Friendly Test (and any other tools used) to a dependable developer as soon as possible.

Concepta, a renowned Orlando mobile development agency, has a decade plus experience solving technology problems for clients.

We can help redesign the site to provide a faster, more responsive experience for mobile users – and keep those users from switching to competitors.

How mobile friendly is your site? Concepta’s developers can talk you through your GMFT results and suggest other mobile-friendly technology like Progressive Web Apps. Set up your free consultation today!

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