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PMG Digital Made for Humans

Mobile Usability: Google Webmaster Tools' Newest Toy

2 MINUTE READ | November 1, 2014

Mobile Usability: Google Webmaster Tools' Newest Toy

As the mobile revolution continues to explode across the web, it’s becoming more and more imperative to really put some effort into the mobile usability and the experience for users not on traditional desktop/laptop devices. For many years, it’s been enough to simply launch an “m-dot” site, with limited functionality and call it a day, but that simply doesn’t cut it anymore.

Earlier this week, Google launched a new set of reports, available within Webmaster Tools, to help provide better insight into the where your mobile website’s user experience is succeeding, and where it’s falling short.

Inside Google Webmaster Tools, under Search Traffic, you’ll find a new “Mobile Usability” topic. Inside this module, you’ll find Google’s list of found errors on your mobile site, along with trending data to reflect how your changes over time have affected the experience of your mobile users.

Among the errors Google can detect are:

  • Flash content

  • Missing viewport

  • Tiny fonts

  • Fixed-width viewports

  • Content not sized to viewport

  • Clickable links/buttons too close

All of these elements can greatly affect the mobile usability of your site, and will also have a drastic affect on some of the “soft metrics” that Google has come to rely more and more on over the past year. Of particular interest is the “fixed-width viewports” element, which seems more firmly establishes Google as being firmly in the “Responsive Design” camp, something they’ve waffled on somewhat in the past.

Performance metrics like CTR, Bounce Rate, Conversion, and Time Spent on Site can all be greatly influenced by tweaks to the elements highlighted here by Google.

While this feature is far from complete, and even appears a bit spartan at the moment (should we expect anything more from WMT?), the new Mobile Usability reports are certainly a helpful trove of information for anyone wanting to improve their mobile experience.

And that should be all of us.

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Posted by Jonathan Hunt

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