Google Prioritising Mobile Friendliness in Search Results as a basic ranking factor
Is your Website Mobile Friendly?
What are the consequences of Google prioritising mobile friendliness or making it a ‘ranking factor’– how can your website suffer?
- Could your text size be too small?
- Is your content wider than the page?
- Do you have a poor length of navigation bars, or spacing of links?
- Is your mobile viewport not set?
- Are file sizes of graphic content too big?
- Do you have 3rd Party plugins that are not mobile friendly or is there general confusion in the layout?
- Are elements too close together?
Google can see when visitors just bounce away and might punish poor sites by dropping them in search rankings.
Do the Work
It is all about making the experience good for the browser or visitor, which comes down to how the page looks on a mobile device. As a result, it is crucial to focus on how it flows. Test your website here – this is a simple free test from Google that will tell you if your website is mobile friendly. Following the test, you will receive results and actions to follow up – be sure to follow the steps if you want to improve your mobile presence! Read the fundamentals here or ask your Website Developer to do it.
Any site should be easy to navigate, whether it is on a pc, laptop, tablet, mobile or phablet, in any browser and at any time. That means work for someone, but if you want results you will need to comply and the bottom line is that it will only improve your business. Ultimately, your business will have a competitive advantage over businesses that fail to consider their websites’ mobile presence. Consequently, there will be winners and losers – where do you come in?
Why is Mobile Important?
Chances are that your website is not fully mobile friendly, so you will need to do some work. Being mobile responsive is not enough, your website needs to be mobile response-able. In other words, your website’s mobile view should be different from its pc view or its tablet view, which improves navigation and speed on the smaller screen. For newer websites, this should be part of the basic deliverables.
According to Google:
- Mobile friendly websites show up higher in search results
- They constitute more than half of Google searches
- The majority of traffic comes from people on mobile devices
- Visitors are 5 times more likely to leave your site if it is not mobile-friendly
Mobile Browsing Stats
Over 70% of buying decisions are made online, even if the purchase is done in store or over the phone after a conversation. In America over 90% of people use smartphones for local search, so this makes mobile friendly websites critical. In addition, over 75% of searches are done at home where there is probably a bigger computer nearby. Furthermore, almost 90% of people click on one of the 10 organic results of a search on page 1. More importantly, over 40% click on the first organic option, while only about 10% click on the second or third result. And, the number of people going to page 2 is in the single percentage figures. Evidently, the majority of buyers are starting their search on a phone, so check out your website’s mobile speed here.
Core Web Vitals
Core Web Vitals was introduced in May 2020. These are a set of metrics that Google uses that relate to website speed, mobile responsiveness, and visual or layout stability. In other words, these metrics are the overall page experience ranking factors.
The page experience ranking factor is a measure of how well people enjoy interacting with a page beyond the information value of that particular page. The 3 Core Web Vitals or additions to the page experience ranking factor include:
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) – Measures how quickly a page loads – ideally under 3 seconds.
First Input Delay (FID) – Measures interactivity and page responsiveness.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) – Measures unanticipated layout movement on a page. In other words, things that are unexpected and annoying.
*This ‘supposedly’ could include lazy loading, but as long as you add all the dimensions, as in width and height for the placeholder, then lazy loading of the image itself should not make any difference. It relates more to boxes and buttons moving around the page, which happens with a lot of Ad boxes. For accurate explanation check out https://web.dev/cls/ for more information.
“What is a good CLS score?”
To provide a good user experience, sites should strive to have a CLS score of 0.1 or less. To ensure you’re hitting this target for most of your users, a good threshold to measure is the 75th percentile of page loads, segmented across mobile and desktop devices.” Realistically you should be scoring 90 or more for both Mobile and Desktop. All the results should be green.
Update March 2021
Fast forward to March or May 2021… the first 3 Core Web Vitals metrics are being paired with the following four existing website signals to round out Google’s stated understanding of overall page experience:
Mobile-Friendly– Measures mobile usability and responsiveness of a page on a smart phone.
Safe Browsing – Identifies security issues on a page, if there are any.
HTTPS – Confirms pages are using an SSL protocol, which makes the little “lock” appear in the top left corner where the url is located.
No Intrusive Interstitials – Determines if pages have unwanted pop-ups.
Google has laid down the gauntlet, and we need to get in line with their current expectations… or else we risk losing valuable business! Don’t let Google Prioritising Mobile Friendliness affect your business negatively. Check how your website scores at Google Page Insights. Remember; You want to score 90 or more.
See our own scores in Google PageSpeed Insights
We have to eat our own dog food, so here are the results you will see if you run our own website through this free Google test. We get 96 in Mobile and 99 in Desktop. This test is a wonderful way for you to see if your web design agency is doing a good job for you.
Google PageSpeed Insights (PSI). Test Your website – FREE tool Google
How good a job did your web developers do on your website. Do not take their word for it, run this FREE test, to find out.
Google PageSpeed Insights (PSI) is a FREE tool from Google. It tests your website and then give you a report on the technical performance of a given page on both mobile and desktop devices. On top of that it then provides suggestions on how this particular can be enhanced.
Page Speed Insights or PSI provides both lab and field data about any given page.
Lab data is useful for debugging performance issues, as it is collected in a controlled environment.
Field data is useful for capturing true, real-world user experience.
The results do two things. Firstly, it gives you a score out of 100 for your mobile and for your Desktop versions of your website. On top of that the report gives you all the data you need to improve the score.
Does this affect your search engine rankings – yes it does. Keep working on your website to get the score as close to 100 as you can. At least get it in to the Green zone, scoring 89 or above. See the full technical Google explanation HERE.
What makes a website slow?
There are lots of reasons a website could be slow. Here is a list to get you started. Some can be fixed by a website user or webmaster. Some need the technical input from an experienced developer.
Hosting is always the first port of call. Your hosting may be poor quality. Or the server software, the php software version could be outdated. There could be a caching issue.
Using a CDN Content Delivery Network such as Cloudflare could help deliver the website faster in different parts of the world.
Design elements may have moving parts which causes delays.
Content such as photos or videos may be too big and be causing delays.
Pages may not be technically well optimised.
Plugins or extensions may need updating. Or one could be causing a conflict with another. There could even be too many plugins installed. One or more could be outdated or has not been updated recently by its developers.
It is possible that there is Malware injected in to the website – hopefully not.
And there may be other reasons. If all of this makes sense to you then take the FREE Google report and get to work to improve things. Or send the details to your web design agency and tell them to get it sorted asap.
Timeline for bringing page experience ranking to Desktop view – Update February 22nd 2022
Further to the statement in November warning of the imminent roll out of these desktop metrics being applied, Google states “Update on February 22, 2022: The page experience update is now slowly rolling out for desktop. It will be complete by the end of March 2022.” having previously stated “Update on January 17, 2022: Google Search Console now has a dedicated ‘Desktop’ section in the Page Experience report”. Effectively this means that the same report is available in GSC for Desktop as Mobile apart from the Mobile Friendly aspect. Full article HERE.
“This means the same three Core Web Vitals metrics: Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), First Input Delay (FID), and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS), and their associated thresholds will apply for desktop ranking. Other aspects of page experience signals, such as HTTPS security and absence of intrusive interstitials, will remain the same as well.”
What does it mean for your website? Simple, the rules applied to measuring a mobile version of a website in summer of 2021, have now been applied to the Desktop version, effectively immediately. If you have already got your website in good shape and passed the test in mobile, then the chances are that your Desktop will also pass muster. However if you had not done anything for your mobile version, then you now have to work on both mobile and desktop to get them in order. If you do not do this work, then your website will drop down in rankings in the future.
Google Page Speed Insights Explained
Google Page Speed Insights or Page Experience is a combination of current Google ranking factors plus a recent set of performance-related factors called Core Web Vitals. These current signals are Mobile friendly, Safe browsing, HTTP or security and lastly No intrusive interstitials.
What are Googles Core Web Vitals?
Ostensibly a set of three performance related core metrics that look at the loading, the interactivity and visual stability of a page., Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), First Input Delay (FID), Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS).
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) measures the loading performance of the largest piece of content on a web page. LCP looks at the time taken for Google to render or deliver “the largest image or text block visible within the viewport, relative to when the page first started loading”. Google says, the LCP of a page should be less than 2.5 seconds.
First Input Delay (FID)
The First Input Delay (FID) metric measures the interactivity of a web page and looks at the time a browser such as Chrome or Safari takes to respond to the user’s first interaction on a page. Examples of interactions include clicking on a link or button, Clicking on a checkbox, Inputting text into a form or selecting an option from a drop-down menu. A good FID score is 100 milliseconds or less.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) measures visual stability, a relatively new metric that accounts for unexpected layout shifts on a web page. The idea is to minimise sudden shifts in the content that result in a poor user experience, so strive to have a CLS score of less than 0.1.
Measuring Page Experience Metrics
Google Search Console
Google Search Console has two reports to let you to measure page experience metrics accurately for Core Web Vitals and Page Experience. The report categorizes links or URLs into three categories for desktop view and mobile view, poor URLs, the URLs that need improvement and the good URLs or links. Clicking on any report will give you more information about any current issues. You want 100% of your URLs as being good on mobile to improve the Page Experience report.
The Page Experience Report
When your URL’s are showing as good on mobile in the Core Web Vitals report, this then qualifies them for the Page Experience report. Google introduced the Page Experience report in Google Search Console which summarises the user experience of the individual pages on your website. This report combines the Core Web Vitals report with other page experience signals HTTPS or Security, Safe browsing Mobile-friendliness Intrusive interstitials and any Google Ad experience violations. The Page Experience report explains which URLs offer a good user experience along with the number of search impressions over any given period of time. Check your website or page HERE.
Google Chrome Lighthouse Report
Google Chrome you can generate a report directly from the browser, simply load the specific page you want to test, right click anywhere and click on inspect (ctrl+shift+i). Click on resources and navigate to the ‘Lighthouse Tab’ and click on Generate Report, which when finished will give you a complete report that should show you any detected issues in Performance, Accessibility, SEO and Best Practice.