Help, my site won’t get found on Google!
Did you hear all the furore online earlier this year as business owners started scrambling to ensure their websites were “mobile friendly”? Did you start to panic a little when you read in Facebook Groups and forums that Google would lower your rankings if you weren’t in compliance?
Or maybe the whole thing passed you by, as you didn’t understand all the “tech talk” and simply switched off?
If you’ve had a niggling feeling you need to be checking this out but felt a bit “stupid” as you didn’t know the right questions to ask – fear not, help is at hand. (And by the way, in my eyes there’s NEVER a “stupid” question, so please always ask).
What does “mobile friendly” even mean?
It’s easiest to give an example of when a website ISN’T…
I’m sure at some point you’ve tried to view a website on your smart phone and gave up in frustration as you spent far too long zooming or “pinching in and out” (I think I just coined that phrase!) to try to read a website that would have looked great on your laptop or desktop but was simply illegible on the tiny screen of your phone.
Well that is a perfect example of a site NOT being mobile friendly – not being easy to view and navigate around on a small mobile device. On the other hand a mobile friendly (or responsive) site will automatically adjust to give you the best layout on whatever device you are using.
Whatever people say about Google (huge corporation that it is) they actually do want to make the web an easier place for us all to find and digest information. So it makes sense that they favour websites that can be viewed on mobile devices – especially since more people are using these to access the web in 2015. (In terms of time spent online, 51% of people in the US use mobile devices compared to 42% who use desktop computers – as of July 2015).
On 21 April 2015 Google started to penalise sites that don’t comply and they appear lower down in searches – so it’s something even us heart-centred business owners need to think about as we all want our Perfect People to be able to find us don’t we?
3 Steps to ensure your website is mobile friendly
1. Test it! Google have kindly provided a site into which you can put your website URL (address) and have it automatically rated for mobile friendliness. Try yours here.
2. Check your current WordPress theme to see that it was built to be mobile friendly. Most well coded themes these days are, but if you are using a theme you purchased a while back it might not be.
A few years ago some web developers started offering a service to create a separate site that was viewable on mobile devices for clients – by re-writing all the code. Happily this is no longer necessary, and (as long as you are working in WordPress) it is much easier to simply change your theme for one that IS responsive.
Last month I “re-built” Janet Walker’s site to ensure it was in compliance. (When it was originally developed five years ago there were very few responsive sites on the web and it wan’t an issue). The project was straightforward and gave Janet the chance to make a few tweaks to the copy and update the layout of her blog.
I admit I did work with some coding to remove the website header image (Janet’s logo) when viewed on smart phones, as the image didn’t view full width on a smaller screen. But otherwise all the page content appeared completely intact after I installed the Prose Theme from StudioPress.
3. Find a new WordPress theme which could potentially be a monumental task with so many 1000s of themes available, but I have found a few to get you started!
(You will notice that some have been developed with specific use in mind – for instance online magazines, creative agencies, photographers or restaurants, so not all will fit your own requirements).
My own favourite suite of themes come from StudioPress – here is a link to all their responsive themes. This is a good place to start as they have a smaller selection that still covers many different styles.
A larger selection of themes, from different developers can be found in this article. Enfold (which I have worked with) and X (that is highly recommended by a fellow Passion to Profit colleague, Giusi from Healthy Indigo) are all on this list of 55 themes.
The review helpfully provides a summary of key features, including support from the theme developers (in my experience this is essential if you need to troubleshoot any issues – and part of why I recommend paid for over free themes).
Over to you
Have you tested your site for “responsiveness”? What was the score? (With the result you also get a useful visual snapshot of what your site looks like on a smartphone).
Do share the sites you’ve found that work well in the Comments below, and we will all get out our mobile devices to take a look!
Are you struggling to find a theme for your website and thinking about “responsiveness” is just about the last straw?
If you are longing for the support of a group of like-minded heart-centred solopreneurs in the website creation process, then help is at hand with the launch of the online group course “I Wish I Loved My Website” in January 2016.
Click here to find out more and sign up to be “front of the queue” when registration opens.
Photo credit: Thom on Unsplash