Mobile

3 Tips for Google's Fancy New Mobile Testing Tool

3 Tips for Google's Fancy New Mobile Testing Tool
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If you are not mobile ready, you are leaving money on the table -- or handing it to a competitor. Not having a mobile site will not only hurt your conversion rates, you could also lose rankings in the mobile search engine results pages (SERPs). As a result, you’ll see a drop-off in organic traffic.

Bottom line -- you’re sacrificing market share if your site isn’t mobile-friendly.

Fortunately, Google is offering another free tool to test the mobile usability of your site (not to be confused with the old Google mobile testing tool). The new tool will crawl the site as a mobile client and provide you with feedback about issues it finds. It will also provide you actionable tips you can take so that you can improve the experience for mobile users.

Related: How a New, Mobile-Friendly Website Gave a Fitness Company a Boost in Profits

Here’s what you need to know about the new Google mobile testing tool.

1. It has a simple user interface.

When you start using the tool, you’ll see that it’s not too complicated at all. Really, there’s only one field where you can enter anything. That’s where you enter the URL of your site.

There’s no button to press. You just hit the enter key once you’ve entered the URL. The tool will spend a few moments crawling your site. Once it’s done, it will give you an answer about whether or not your site is mobile-friendly.

Hopefully, you’ll see a big green box that reads: “This page seems mobile-friendly.”

If the tool does notice any issues, you’ll receive a report about them.

2. It's linked to Google Search Console.

There are already a number of great reports in the Google Search Console. The Mobile Usability report is one of them. Fortunately, there’s a link in the “Next steps” section on the mobile testing tool’s results page that will take you directly to the report. It’s labeled “Open site-wide mobile usability report.”

Click on that and you’ll open the Search Console in a new tab. The link will take you straight to the Mobile Usability report under the “Search Traffic” header of the left-hand menu.

At the top of the report, you’ll see a line graph showing you how many mobile usability problems Google noticed over the past few months. Below that, you’ll see a table describing each problem.

If you click on one of the rows in the table, you’ll get a chance to learn more about the issue and how to fix it. Click on it again and Google will show a pop-up that gives you the opportunity to check the site again for the problem -- that takes you back to the mobile usability tool. It also provides you with actionable steps about how to resolve the issue.

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3. It reports on a variety of issues.

Here are the types of issues you can expect to see reported on the Mobile Usability report:

Flash usage -- Once upon a time, Flash was all the craze among web developers. That’s because it looked cool and offered a professional polish to web pages wanting to make a statement. Then Apple delivered the iPhone and promised no effort to support Flash technology. As a result, it’s best to leave Flash usage in the past. 

Viewport not configured -- There’s some not-so-fancy HTML coding web developers have to do as Step 1 to make their sites responsive. They need to code a meta viewport tag. It’s a simple enough process, but some newer developers overlook it. The usability report will tell you if you neglected to add it.

Fixed-width viewport -- In this mobile era, fixed-width is a no-no.That’s because people can view your site on devices with various screen sizes. They can also decide to use portrait or landscape orientation when viewing your page on a mobile platform. That’s why you need to set the viewport to match the width of the device and orientation used to view the page, as opposed to establishing a fixed width.

Content not sized to viewport -- Raise your hand if you’ve ever accessed a website on a mobile device only to find yourself scrolling right just to see everything that’s on the page. Hopefully, that hasn’t happened to you a whole lot lately, but it can still be a problem on some sites. Google will let you know if your content is too wide for mobile viewers.

Small font size -- This is a problem that still plagues many websites. The font size is just too small. Remember, people reading content on a mobile platform are often doing so on a device that’s not a whole lot bigger than a credit card. You don’t want to force your users to “pinch and zoom” just to read your articles. If you see this red flag in the usability report, Google is telling you to increase your font size.

Touch elements too close -- Another problem you’ve probably experienced when using a website on a mobile device is that you fat-fingered the wrong button when filling out a form. Don’t feel bad or go on a diet -- that’s really the developer’s fault. Buttons shouldn’t be so close together that it’s easy for a user to click the wrong one. Google will let you know if your touch elements are so close that users might have problems.

Interstitial usage -- Some developers think it’s cool to open a popup when users visit their site on a mobile device. Google doesn’t think it’s cool and neither do a lot of users. That’s because the popup blocks page content and is often difficult to dismiss. Google will flag your site as user-hostile to a mobile audience if you’re using interstitials.

Related: 15 Ways to Get a Top Google Ranking for Your Small Business

Get started -- use the tool now.

With mobile usage on the rise and showing no sign of slowing down, it’s important that your site is mobile-friendly. Fortunately, Google offers a tool to help you determine that. Use the tool after making any changes to your site to be sure that the updates haven’t created any mobile usability issues.