Insights

How to Make Sure Your Website Is Mobile Friendly

Author - armstrong-admin
09.04.2021

It’s 2021 there’s no need to be too concerned about how mobile your website is there? Surely all that has been taken care of by your web developer. It is after all six years since mobile searches edged ahead of desktop searches for the first time in 2015. Since then the gap has continued to grow wider as smart phones have got better the mobile-friendliness of websites has improved.

Yet as with anything web related, technology doesn’t stand still. As someone who works in SEO, you often see shifts that have a real impact on businesses that don’t have their eyes on the ball with what’s happening in search. The results of this can be a loss of a few places in search results or worse pages are de-indexed altogether. For businesses that rely on organic traffic to drive sales and leads, this can really hurt a business.

Fortunately, we can at least rely on established web platforms such as WordPress that have largely solved the problem of responsiveness with themes that resize to all the different screen sizes including smart phone screens. Web developers building bespoke WordPress themes will also be aware that the design of a website needs to look as good on a narrow smartphone screen as it does on an extra wide desktop.

This is all well and good. Most users will have a decent experience even on websites that don’t look great on mobile. The problem is this leads to a false sense of security with problems not as easy to identify as before. Unfortunately, simply being able to use a website on a smartphone screen doesn’t necessarily mean that it is fully responsive. There are often hidden problems that go unresolved until issues start being flagged up in Google Search Console. These are sometimes ignored as Google just being fussy.

It has to be said, Google Search Console has come a long way in recent years. Five years ago, Google’s website performance tool offered much less insight in performance than it does today. Now, the information it provides is as close as the search engine gets to providing indicators that all is well or not so well with performance.

The core web vitals section, in particular, provides some useful insight into how Google views web pages grading them as either poor, needing improvement or good.  

As we touched on earlier, these warning signals are often either ignored or dismissed as minor, however, it in the past year it has become increasingly apparent that Google has begun to incorporate core web vitals data as a ranking factor. While the news is that this will happen in May 2021 (less than a month away at the time of writing) the sense is that it has happened already.  

While it is now easier than ever to put together a website and have it online in a matter of minutes, the goalposts have almost certainly moved. Those sites that don’t offer a good user experience in Google’s eyes will almost certainly be downgraded in the not too distant future which makes the quality of a website build at least as important as doing all the SEO activities such as link building on-page optimisation and so on.

How do you make sure your website is mobile-friendly?

If you need a quick resource to test the mobile-friendliness of your website try using this tool https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly This should flag any immediate issue. Then if you have Google Search Console set up you can log in and select ‘core web vitals’ on the left-hand menu. This will open up a report that will show two important areas hence the term ‘core web vitals’.

The two reports you will find cover LCP and CLS issues. LCP is stands for Largest Contentful Paint which is simply how long it takes for the largest amount of content to appear when someone clicks on your web link. CLS stands for Cumulative Layout Shift which measures how stable your website is when it is navigated on mobile or desktop. The latter will show a poor result if there are layout shifts that could lead users click the wrong buttons or links or lose their place on a page.

LCP issues can either be due to a generally slow loading website, e.g images to large to load quickly or slow server response you often find when hosting on cheap shared hosting platforms.

The problem with these issues is they are often not easy to resolve unless you have web development skills. Google also doesn’t provide much guidance on finding the issues it flags but a good place to start inspecting would be to use this free tool https://gtmetrix.com/

This will provide an indication of where to find the reasons for lack performance which can then be investigated further by someone with knowledge of how to fix the issues.

While Core Web Vitals issues can be more difficult to resolve than most problems website related, it is worth persevering and getting to the root of the issues. Ultimately if a website isn’t mobile friendly Google will eventually penalise your website. A website that isn’t fully responsive will not only harm user experience but also undermine your SEO efforts.