Google is Now Penalizing Websites For Mobile Usability Issues

What Are Mobile Usability Issues?

Yes, that’s right!  Your friend, your buddy, Google is now dishing out and enforcing mobile usability issues with websites that are not mobile friendly.  This will drastically and directly effect your organic (SEO) search engine listings and placements.  If your were or are fortunate enough to have a Google Webster account set up and actively use it and pay attention to it, you would have been sent an alert informing you of the penalties that are directly coming your way.  If not, you will never know.  I strongly suggest if you don’t already have a Google Webmaster account you set one up or Contact Us for assistance.

So in a nutshell what this basically means is that Google is now penalizing and devaluing websites that are not mobile friendly or mobile compliant.  Websites that don’t have an actual “Mobile Website” version or that don’t use responsive website themeing.

I understand this, and it does make sense, however it truly seems to be coming at a very strange time in our evolution of the Internet and Web.  Specifically, we and many developers have been making mobile friendly websites and apps for quite some time.  “They” have been preaching mobile friendly for X years now.  But in the twilight of all this, at this moment when it would seem mobile friendly is the least needed ever, they start sending out mobile compliance issues to all the websites and webmasters around the world.

The reason I say “Mobile Friendly is Less Needed Then Ever” is because of the evolution of the larger cell phones.  Now with the New Samsung Note 3, Galaxy 5 with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus it would seem mobile websites are starting to become extinct.  I mean now more then ever you can actually see and interact with a normal website (not mobile friendly) as if you were on a regular computer or browser.  The difference is minimal.

But never-the-less Google wants us to make our sites more mobile friendly or they will penalize us in the mobile search results.  So what does this mean?

Fix Mobile Usability Issues

Well the primary penalties that I have been seeing coming through are for the following issues:

  • Small Font Size
  • Viewport Not Configured
  • Touch Elements Too Close
  • Flash Usage

Such As (Straight from Google):

  • A defined viewing area (or viewport)that adjusts to the device’s screen size.

  • Content that flows in the viewport, so that users don’t have to scroll horizontally or pinch the screen in order to see the entire page.

  • Fonts that scalefor easier reading on small screens.

  • Easy-to-touch elements (e.g., buttons) that are well-spaced from other touch elements.

  • Visual design and motiondriven by mobile-friendly technology.

What Does Small Font Size Mean?

This report identifies pages where the font size for the page is too small to be legible and would require mobile visitors to “pinch to zoom” in order to read. After specifying a viewport for your web pages, set your font sizes to scale properly within the viewport. Read more about font size best practices in Use Legible Font Sizes.

What Does Viewport Not Configured Mean?

Viewport Not Configured

Because visitors to your site use a variety of devices with varying screen sizes—from large desktop monitors, to tablets and small smartphones—your pages should specify a viewport using the meta viewport tag. This tag tells browsers how to adjust the page’s dimension and scaling to suit the device. Learn more in Responsive Web Design Basics.

Fixed-Width Viewport

This report shows those pages with a viewport set to a fixed width. Some web developers define the viewport to a fixed pixel size in order to adjust a non-responsive page to suit common mobile screen sizes. To fix this error, adopt a responsive design for your site’s pages, and set the viewport to match the device’s width and scale accordingly. Read how to correctly Set the Viewport in our Web Fundamentals.

Content Not Sized to Viewport

This report indicates pages where horizontal scrolling is necessary to see words and images on the page. This happens when pages use absolute values in CSS declarations, or use images designed to look best at a specific browser width (such as 980px). To fix this error, make sure the pages use relative width and position values for CSS elements, and make sure images can scale as well. Read more in Size Content to Viewport.

What Does Flash Usage Mean?

Most mobile browsers do not render Flash-based content. Therefore, mobile visitors will not be able to use a page that relies on Flash in order to display content, animations, or navigation. We recommend designing your look and feel and page animations using modern web technologies. Read more about Look and Feel in our Web Fundamentals guide.

What Does Touch Elements Too Close Mean?

This report shows the URLs for sites where touch elements, such as buttons and navigational links, are so close to each other that a mobile user cannot easily tap a desired element with their finger without also tapping a neighboring element. To fix these errors, make sure to correctly size and space buttons and navigational links to be suitable for your mobile visitors. Read more in Size Tap Targets Appropriately.

Check Out More on Google Mobile Usability Here:

And Check out More On Google Web Fundamentals Here:

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