Monitor and Fix Your Mobile Website Issues with Google Webmaster Tools

With mobilegeddon come and gone and no real consequence seen, it’s time to get down to the main point of Google downgrading non-mobile friendly websites: 48% of mobile users start on search engines. That is a huge number when you consider mobile internet users have now surpassed desktop users globally.

The bottom line is this. If you’re a business in the market for attracting customers, it is vital to create a mobile-responsive website that loses zero user experience when compared to your desktop version.

By now you have a desktop version of your website. The question is, how do you know what’s wrong with your website’s mobile usability, and how do you fix any mobile website issues? Google Webmaster Tools (GWT) can help. We’re here to walk you through how to use GWT and implement a plan to fix those mobile errors.

Google Webmaster Tools (GWT)

GWT is a great tool that every marketer/web master should have access to. It provides insight Google Analytics just doesn’t give. How your content is placed in search results pages is one data set that should be used to drive content strategy. GWT also has a new tab for mobile usability. At Brandpoint we used this data to begin fixing our issues.

 

mobile fix image 1

 

As you can see from the graphic, we had plenty of issues to correct prior to our website being 100% usable for mobile users. The top two issues rested within what Google describes as “Touch elements too close” and “Content not sized to viewport.” If you dig a little deeper, Google will give you the URLs where each issue occurs. Shown in the image below are the URLs of /blog/content-marketing-fuels-customer-journey page had issues and you can see the last time Google detected the issue on that page, noted by the date 4/26/15.

 

mobile urls

 

So this tool will tell you the URL but it’s very vague on the issues. It expects you to do some legwork to discover what the issue truly looks like on a mobile screen. Instead of heading to a tablet or phone while you work, use the window minimizing buttons on your desktop to understand what the user would see on mobile. In the two images below you can see that I’ve minimized my window to get an understanding of what it looks like on mobile. The two photos also highlight our two main mobility issues: content not sized to view point, and touch elements too close. The first image is the content not sized to view point.

 

mobility fix touch element test-flat

 

As you can see in the first image, the photo that is presented in the URL isn’t fitting to the window size. On mobile this means that to see the complete width of the image, I would need to scroll right. This is a usability issue in Google’s eyes and it makes sense. A good user experience gives the visitor everything they need in the least amount of clicks or mouse moves possible. This issue goes against ideal user experience as it’s described.

The second image highlights our touch elements are too close issue. Our “Contact Brandpoint” overlay was impeding the user experience by covering up links on the page. When enabling this feature originally we only took into account the desktop version.

Lessons? Learn as you go. Mistakes are fine. But take action to fix them!

Fixing the issues

It’s time to fix the issues GWT has given you. You know the URLs and have already downloaded them from GWT. Now you can get together with your marketing team to go over how to fix them. Since I’m only the onsite SEO strategist I reached out to our Director of Marketing and Webmaster to set up a time to discuss these issues. Who you have in the meeting is up to you but you should have key decision makers and website developers to help talk through the issues and make calls on the best actions that will solve mobile issues while keeping business goals intact.

In the meeting we discussed the issues presented. We went through some of the URLs we downloaded and showed our website developer what was causing the issues. We then decided, with Marketing’s direction, how we’d right the wrong. This collaboration is important so we were all on the same page going forward.

Before the meeting ended we gave our developer a deadline to correct the issues. With the mobilegeddon approaching fast we had to move quickly. And, our development team did. We were able to complete our issue list in under a few days.

The wrap

The good news is our website was given the “mobile-friendly” approval from Google immediately! We still have some small issues to fix but our total number is gradually going down with every time our website is indexed by Google bots.

Which brings me to a great point: If you do not have GWT implemented, do so now and get your site map indexed by Google bots ASAP. It not only helps finding these problems, but helps put your content in search result pages on Google.

For additional tips on making an awesomely responsive mobile website, see our post 7 Realities of Today’s Responsive Mobile Website.

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