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Make sure your website is ready for Google’s new mobile search rules

David Hancock /

If your business website isn’t mobile-friendly then you’re about to slide down the rankings when people search from their smartphone or tablet.

Whatever business you’re in, a high Google search ranking is critical. Whether customers are looking for a panel beater, a pastry chef or a plumber, these days they reach for a web browser rather than the old paper phone books. But more than that, if they’re staring at a dent in their car or a broken hot water service, they’ll probably reach for the smartphone in their pocket to look someone up on the spot.

If you’re invisible in mobile search results then you’ve just lost a customer to the competition.

Big changes are happening in the mobile search space. Google is dramatically overhauling its mobile search algorithms to give priority to websites with a mobile-friendly design, to ensure people get a good user experience when they visit from their smartphone or tablet. So even if your business ranks highly when someone is searching Google from the web browser on their PC, you might vanish off the radar when they switch to their mobile device.

If your website is a jumbled mess on a small screen then it’s time to update it for the mobile age. You might choose to present a separate mobile-friendly site to people visiting from mobile devices, but you don’t necessarily need to spend a fortune on a slick mobile site with all the bells and whistles.

Google doesn’t judge you according to style, it just assesses a few key areas:

● Is the text too small to read without zooming?

● Are visitors forced to scroll horizontally to see the entire page?

● Are links too close together to easily tap on a touch screen?

● Are you using Adobe Flash or other technologies which generally aren’t supported on mobile devices?

If you only have a basic website then it might only require a few changes to get it up to code. If you’ve invested time and money in a slick desktop-friendly website then there’s no need to abandon that investment. Instead you’ll want your website to automatically detect when someone is visiting from a handheld device so it can offer them up a mobile-friendly view.

Even if you already have a mobile-friendly website, it might need a tweak in order to appease the Google search bot. If your site’s robots.txt file stops the search bot from viewing your images, CSS and Javascript files then it will see a jumbled mess even if it looks fine to you on your smartphone and tablet.

If your site fails this test your business will become all but invisible in mobile search results, so it’s important to talk to your web designer to ensure your website makes the grade.

David Hancock is the founder and managing director of Geeks2U, a national on-site computer repair and support company.

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David Hancock

David Hancock is the founder and managing director of Geeks2U, a national on-site computer repair and support company.

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