The number of users who access the Internet through their desktop or laptop is decreasing every month, while the mobile usage is increasing. There are estimations that until 2016 there will be more mobile and tablet users than desktop and laptop ones. To be visible for this rising number of users performing mobile searches, it is important to have a mobile website without technical issues.
Last year, Google posted new recommendations for building smartphone-optimized websites. In that post, Google also stated that it supports three different types of mobile implementations:
- Sites that use responsive web design. In this case, there is only one version of the website which adapts to the screen dimensions.
- Sites that serve the same URLs to both desktop and mobile users, but the served HTML is defined dynamically, depending on the user’s device.
- Sites that have two different versions, a desktop and a mobile one.
Google declared that its recommended configuration is the use of responsive web design. With this concept, every page is based on the same URL and HTML code, regardless of the user’s device.
In a recent post, Google also announced ranking changes in the smartphone search results and penalties for mobile websites with errors. The most common mistakes that can cause ranking issues are the following:
- False redirects: For example when there are redirects from all internal mobile pages to the home page of the desktop website.
- Wrong handling of 404 pages: It is important that the user is driven to content pages and not error pages.
- Faulty handling of Googlebot-mobile: For example, if the Googlebot-mobile identifies a smartphone, it should be treated as such by the mobile website and not as a feature phone or a desktop.
- Incomplete implementations for videos: Not all the desktop videos can be played on mobile devices (e.g Flash Videos). There are alternatives like the HTML5 <video> tag, or the .ogg format that make videos viewable across all devices.
By ensuring that you do not have any of the above issues on your mobile website, you will avoid penalties caused by the new updates of Google’s mobile algorithm that could lead to sharp drops in ranking.