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Google telling user when site is mobile friendly

     
12:18 am on Nov 19, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Responsive design just became a necessity. Google will be telling users when a site is mobile friendly. Ultimately this is bound to affect CTR rates and your overall score with Google.

[googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.co.uk...]
6:42 pm on Nov 25, 2014 (gmt 0)

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switching back to tablets

Was that a typo? A tablet is a mobile. The viewport is bigger than a telephone, but the user interface is still limited to touching/tapping.
8:59 pm on Nov 25, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Was that a typo? A tablet is a mobile.


Or not, depending on who's defining "mobile."

For what it's worth, Google Analytics used to bundle tablets with mobile but now has three categories of devices: desktop, mobile, and tablet.

As a practical matter, tablets can display many (most?) conventional Web sites without compromises, and without the use of "responsive design," at least in landscape view.

Side note: Whether busting a gut to rank well in Google Mobile Search is worthwhile depends, to a great degree, on how badly you want or need phone users who demand responsive layouts. If, say, you're publishing an information site and rely on advertising or affiliate links for revenue, the mobile user may be a "loss leader." (Our site earns a lot of money from affiliate links, but hardly any of that revenue comes from mobile users even though we have several hundred pages of mobile-optimized content and our mobile audience has increased dramatically. Are we better off reinventing our site with responsive design or investing our time in developing new content that will attract desktop, laptop, and tablet users who view ads and click on affiliate links? The answer isn't as simple as "mobile first" advocates might like to think.)
4:53 pm on Dec 10, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Back to the OP - does saying "mobile friendly" in the search results really make a difference as to whether someone will click through? I think most people glance at the results, see a word or phrase that looks relavent and then clicks or taps. Personal view is that I don't even notice the words "mobile friendly"
5:44 pm on Dec 10, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Back to the OP - does saying "mobile friendly" in the search results really make a difference as to whether someone will click through? I think most people glance at the results, see a word or phrase that looks relavent and then clicks or taps. Personal view is that I don't even notice the words "mobile friendly"


I'd imagine that Google's decision was made after extensive user testing.

Still, what constitutes "mobile-friendly" is subjective: A person with aging eyes who's viewing the Web on an iPhone 4 may not have the same preferences as a user with a Google Nexus 6.

IMHO, Google's definition of "mobile-friendly" will likely change over time. After all, it wasn't so long ago that "mobile-friendly" meant "viewable on a feature phone."
10:05 pm on Dec 10, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I have sites that are responsive PLUS they have separate pages for 320px and under. Right from the start they had "mobile_friendly" as part of the URL. Wonder if I can take out a patent case against Google?

On a more serious note; IMO Google's advice to have one site which can be viewed on everything from widescreen to tiny phones is deeply flawed. They have different audiences with different needs. It is possible of course using some clever @media but there seems a heck of a risk of it being mistaken for hidden text so I for one won't risk it.
12:24 am on Dec 11, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I hope Google is smart enough now to know the difference of someone purposely trying to hide text to gain ranking (people actually still do this?) and a responsive theme trying to minimize things for screen real estate.

Way back I remember making sure my websites looked good on the old 640 x 480 screens and now it seems we are back to this again with mobile devices.

Do most people really allow sizes as small as 320 pixels wide? There can't be that many phones anymore that have that resolution. What minimum size does everyone here use?

Also how does one deal with ads? I have 468x60 banners. Should I scale it down when it gets to large for the screen size? I think I rather do this than use @media to hide one media size and display another. I rather not have double the ads being loaded for the page (even if one is hidden).
12:36 am on Dec 11, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Do most people really allow sizes as small as 320 pixels wide? There can't be that many phones anymore that have that resolution.


There are plenty of iPhones around with 320-pixel viewports.

For our main site, the most common smartphone viewport width is 320 pixels.
12:48 am on Dec 11, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I think most people glance at the results, see a word or phrase that looks relevant and then clicks or taps. Personal view is that I don't even notice the words "mobile friendly"

If not for this thread, I don't think I would have noticed the words either.
12:54 am on Dec 11, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Do most people really allow sizes as small as 320 pixels wide?

It depends on device orientation. As discussed earlier in this thread, people may switch to landscape mode if a site is unusable in portrait. But a telephone, by its nature, is most comfortably held in portrait mode. That's where you get your smaller pixel values. Remember also that the numbers should refer to pixels as a unit of measurement, not as a physical aspect of display. Not everyone using an iPhone is a 19-year-old with perfect eyesight who doesn't mind seeing everything at half size.
10:05 am on Dec 12, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Would Google Adsense earnings go up for responsive websites?
11:53 am on Dec 12, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Focusing on mobile was the best thing I did for my site. I now earn more from mobile than desktop, but EPC is lower though. In my case it made no sense to use a responsive layout, so I serve a mobile optimized content for mobile devices on the same URL with a "Vary" "User Agent" header. If you are thinking of focusing on mobile(I'm not referring to any specific person here), don't think of it as "doing it for Google".
5:25 am on Dec 14, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I have a website (embarrassingly) in transition. One-half responsive design, the other fixed-width desktop.

I see no substantial traffic changes with any of my content,related to this period where they've started using the "mobile friendly" indicator.
6:57 am on Dec 14, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I got religion about mobile-friendly design a few months ago. Clients needed mobile-friendly designs for a long time, of course, but I'd just been adding responsiveness to my own sites on a piecemeal basis. Then this past August I was digging into my Analytics data during a time when bounce rates were being discussed. The percentage of mobile users on my informational sites had been trivial for years, which seemed pretty natural due to the topics. On my e-commerce site, I knew the numbers had been inching up, but I was shocked to find the percentage of smartphones had reached 22% and tablets were about 8%. What wasn't a surprise was the 90%+ bounce rate and the dismal time on site and pageview stats. So, I dug in and fixed the site so it was truly usable on mobile and not just visible.

For the past 30 days, mobile is at 32% of visitors. I got their bounce rate down to 70% and doubled the pageviews. My rankings have been mushy so judgements are difficult, but sales are enough better to believe it was well worth the effort. The usage percentages alone tells me that e-commerce sites simply must have a mobile solution in place now, and informational sites shouldn't ignore those users, either.
4:24 pm on Dec 14, 2014 (gmt 0)

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The usage percentages alone tells me that e-commerce sites simply must have a mobile solution in place now, and informational sites shouldn't ignore those users, either.


We have separate mobile versions of the most popular pages on our main informational site.

For tracking purposes, we also have separate affiliate codes for that site's mobile and non-mobile pages. (Affiliate earnings represent a significant part of our revenue.) Although our mobile traffic has increased a great deal over the last year, affiliate revenue from our mobile pages is virtually non-existent. Why? I suspect it's because, for our topic, readers typically make purchases (and possibly their purchase decisions) on their desktops, laptops, or tablets, and they use their phones mostly during the preliminary and last-minute phases of the research cycle.

So yes, mobile traffic could be useful or even important for informational sites (probably depending on the topic), but quantifying the value of that traffic may not be easy--at least for now.
1:57 pm on Jan 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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... affiliate revenue from our mobile pages is virtually non-existent

I had a similar problem until I found that the landing page of the merchant was not responsive. When this was updated also conversions happened (not as many as for desktop users, but it keeps me happy).
2:16 pm on Jan 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Here's a related new thread about the issue. Google is now emailing webmasters about their site not be mobile friendly [webmasterworld.com]
.
5:57 pm on Mar 7, 2015 (gmt 0)

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So there's a conflict between the PageSpeed mobile test and the mobile friendly test. If you're using Webmaster Tools to check your problem mobile pages, it directs you to test the live version to see if you've fixed it. For this, it uses the PageSpeed Mobile test. If your score is low, there's a yellow bar saying "This page may not pass the Mobile Speed Test" with a link to it.

But once I got my score up to 95% in PageSpeed Mobile, the yellow bar went away and there's no hint the page still has issues... but it still gets the same error messages in the Mobile Friendly test and doesn't pass.

Do we know which test Google will use to give out the "mobile-friendly" tag?

Another thing that's confusing is that I've got many cases where two pages which are identical except for text and images have one passing and one not passing. I can't find any pattern to that. I'm not entirely sure the mobile test is actually using the "live" version of the page - feels like it's drawing from a cache, because making changes doesn't ever seem to affect it, the way changes will instantly affect your PageSpeed score.

I've got my pages all ranking 95 in the PageSpeed mobile score, so I'm going to take a couple of days off from banging my head over this and see what changes in Webmaster Tools.
7:37 pm on Mar 7, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I had to search high and low to remember where, exactly, Google links to the Mobile-Friendly [google.com] page. Turns out you only get the link if Page Speed Insights [developers.google.com] (the page from GWT) gives you the yellow "This page may not pass" bar. Otherwise there is no hint of the page's existence. This, in turn, leads you to

FAQ: What's the difference? [developers.google.com]

which does, in fact, answer most questions. It's a very short page, so I don't think they will mind an in-full quote (emphasis mine):

The Mobile-Friendly Test (MFT) uses Googlebot to fetch the page. PageSpeed Insights does not use Googlebot, but fetches the page in a way that mimics how a real user fetches the page.

This means that the MFT follows robots.txt rules rules and PSI does not. If Googlebot is blocked from fetching the page, JavaScript, CSS, or other resources, the MFT may not be able to detect if a page is mobile-friendly.

If you want to know if a page is eligible for the mobile-friendly label in Google Search, you need to use the Mobile-Friendly Test.


Page Speed Insights results are cached for 30 seconds (they say so). MobileFriendly uses the mobile googlebot:

Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 6_0 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/536.26 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/6.0 Mobile/10A5376e Safari/8536.25 (compatible; Googlebot/2.1; +http://www.google.com/bot.html)


(Reminder! A bit over a year ago, they dropped the "-Mobile" element from this UA name.)

I couldn't find caching info, but it can't be very long.


"Does this screenshot look incorrect?"

Why yes, Google, it does in fact-- but it's not because I'm not letting you crawl my piwik files. (Why, exactly, do all Google previews pretend that they have no native fonts, forcing everything into generic sans-serif unless you've got an embedded @font-face? This can make a huge difference in apparent text width.)
9:01 pm on Mar 7, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Thanks, Lucy24, I should have found that on my own. In my defense, I've been struggling with all this for most of three days. ;)

So they're relying on a test that's incredibly unreliable.

--PageSpeed mobile does everything right. Scores between two virtually identical pages are the same, give or take a digit. Feedback is helpful.

--But the Mobile Friendly test looks at two pages with identical content width styling and link positioning in the navigation, and concludes one is "awesome" but the other has "content wider than screen" and "links too close together." Hmm? How on earth can I troubleshoot that?

Just for giggles, I switched to a responsive design that was designed exactly to Google's recommendations. My Pagespeed Mobile score went up a few points, but the Mobile Friendly test kept right on ranking everything just the same way it has for three days.

If it's not caching things and ignoring your changes, then it's off the digital equivalent of its meds.
9:50 pm on Mar 7, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Guys, anyone finding for the last 48 hours the "fetch as googlebot" to be giving random errors? As in, missing lots of html elements randomly out of any given page. Especially for fetching as Mobile Smartphone.

Anyone?
9:56 pm on Mar 7, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Yep - and see my post just above yours. I think some of their testing tools are just plain buggy right now.

And expanding on what I said above, I just caught the mobile friendly test giving a thumbs down to a page it gave the thumbs up to last night. I haven't changed anything on the page.

If that's what they're relying on, then gimme a break. I'll keep using Pagespeed because it works, but this other thing is just loony tunes.
11:46 am on Mar 8, 2015 (gmt 0)

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If, say, you're publishing an information site and rely on advertising or affiliate links for revenue, the mobile user may be a "loss leader."

Don't understand the term "loss leader" but my information site, which sells advertising as well as having hundreds of affiliate product links, has increased traffic approx 40% since becoming mobile-responsive. I agree the mobile user related sales have not increased at the same rate. I blame this on 2 of the 3 affiliate companies not being mobile-responsive. The one affiliate who does support mobile, uses a series of poorly executed redirects to the mobile version of the product pages. I assume sales are lost as a result.


Would Google Adsense earnings go up for responsive websites?

My Adsense income has more than tripled since becoming mobile-responsive and Adsense reports a high percentage of this is from high-end mobile phones and tablets (percentages vary from day to day.)
1:00 pm on Mar 8, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Don't understand the term "loss leader"


An example of a loss leader would be when a store like Walmart prices something so low that they're probably losing money on it, just to get people in the door to hopefully buy more stuff.

(And mobile has not been a loss leader for me either)
3:34 pm on Mar 8, 2015 (gmt 0)

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And mobile has not been a loss leader for me either.


I think it depends, to a great degree, on:

- The topic

- The audience

- Where the user is in the research and purchasing cycle (assuming that the topic is related to a "research and purchasing cycle")

Take a travel-related topic: People who are driving across the Southwest on Route 66 are probably using their phones to book hotels on short notice along the way, much as they once used AAA and Mobil Guides to see what hotels, motels, and motor inns were up ahead. People who are planning vacations in Rio or Rejkjavik, on the other hand, are likely to book ahead from home and use their mobile phones for information on things such as local transportation, restaurants, and sightseeing after they arrive.

In our case, the best solution in theory would be to have an adaptive site that served different affiliate links to mobile users than to desktop and laptop users. Note that I said "in theory": In practice, the return on investment from building a fully adaptive site would be iffy.
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