Internet usage on mobile devices now exceeds PC, still many businesses and brands fail to leverage the growing need of mobile friendly websites. In January, Google started sending out notifications in Webmaster tools informing websites that they need to fix mobile usability issues or they won't be shown well in the mobile search results. The sooner you can identify and then fix usability issues, the better.

Why Does it Impact SEO?

For anyone who performs SEO or knows about SEO, the typical conversation about how to improve a websites ranking is usually focused around generating unique content or acquiring valuable links. While those are both large factors in determining how a website might be viewed, often overlooked is user experience.

Ultimately SEO is really about showing that your website should be trusted and since that is determined partly how visitors react when they visit your site, user experience is extremely important. Google wants to provide their user base with the best possible search experience so that their customers keep using their search engine. Because of this, Google tends to reward sites with higher rankings that offer a great user experience.

Identifying Mobile Usability Issues

The first place you should go to check for mobile usability issues is the Webmaster Tools Mobile Usability feature. This section shows different issues that Google identified along with graphs that show the progress you've made over time. The feature will show you several issues: Flash content, missing viewpoint, tiny fonts, fixed-width viewports, content not sized to viewport, and clickable links/buttons too close to each other. You can find the mobile usability report by simply singing into your Webmaster account. Visit here for the official tutorial on the report from Google.

The second place you can visit is the PageSpeed Insights Load Tool. As you can imagine this tool focuses on the load time of your mobile website, which is incredibly important for SEO and for usability, but what's cool about this tool is it will actually tell you what specifically is slowing down your site and then how to fix it. You can find the tool here. Simply type in your domain name and you're set to go.

A Few Tips to Fixing Mobile Usability Issues

Your first step is of course to check out the tools mentioned above to give you an idea of where to start, but then comes the time to actually make changes. A few tips include:

  • Start by finding your problematic pages. Log into Google Webmaster Tools and click on Search Traffic--Mobile Usability on the left nav bar. This section will provide a breakdown of the usability errors and all the pages that have specific errors on them.
  • Educate yourself as much as you can about mobile-friendly design. Now that you have a list of all pages and the errors that are occurring, you can now start working on a plan to fix them. Although there are many different places to learn about mobile-friendly design, Google offers a wonderful resource for Web Fundamentals. This guide will detail the best practices on how to fix the usability issues that are occurring. With over 114 sections, this guide will help with everything from general principles, layouts, design, performance, and much more.
  • Fix and Test. Now that you have familiarized yourself with the best practices, you should have enough ammo to start fixing the issues. Start by altering your pages or site templates to improve the usability as much as possible. After each improvement, re-test each page with the Google PageSpeed Insights tool to identify how your score improves. Every little update you can make to improve your overall score will help improve your visibility in the mobile search results.

Mobile search volume will only continue to rise as more and more consumers become comfortable using their devices to search for products and services. The quicker you are able to adapt and work towards providing a better experience for those consumers, the quicker your website will flourish.

Published on: Feb 24, 2015
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