A Guide to Google’s Mobile-Friendly SEO Changes and What They Mean to You

By Stephen Alemar

April_MobileagedonBy now, you’ve probably heard the big news regarding mobile search and Google. At the end of February, Google announced they would be altering mobile search results to rank mobile-friendly sites significantly higher. Consequently, this means websites that are not mobile-friendly will see a severe negative impact on their site ranking and organic traffic.

This change is due to go into effect on April 21, and it is very important you ensure your site is ready. Luckily, anyone with a Duda website shouldn’t have to worry about this update (and will likely see an SEO boost as a result), as all sites built on the Duda platform are by default already mobile-friendly.

However, it’s always a good idea to be sure. A very simple way to determine whether or not your site is in good standing is to run it through Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. On the off chance there are any issues with your site, the following guide should let you know how to identify and fix any problems. And of course, Duda Support is available and more than happy to help make sure your site is ready for April 21.

When determining whether your site is mobile-friendly or not, Google checks several settings on your website. You can check out Google’s recommendations for mobile SEO here. Let’s go through the list of items and see how Duda solves for each requirement via DudaMobile (mobile-only website builder) and DudaOne (responsive website builder with server-side support). If you’re not familiar with the different ways of building mobile-friendly websites, I strongly recommend reading this blog post first.

Avoid Faulty Redirects

A faulty redirect is when a mobile visitor receives different content than they expected. Normally, this means that if a mobile user is trying to go directly to your contact page, they get redirected to the homepage of the mobile site instead. Google has a handy image to illustrate (literally) the problem:

DudaMobile: There are a few ways that DudaMobile solves for faulty redirects: (1) DudaMobile automatically takes your existing desktop site and creates a mobile version of it.  Every single page of your site is mobilized, which means that there is always a mobile-friendly version of each page available. (2) When you implement the DudaMobile redirect, Duda will make sure that mobile visitors are sent to the same page on the mobile site that they originally requested from the desktop site. With these two items, Duda ensures that mobile visitors always get the best experience possible.

Faulty redirects are the most common reason that a DudaMobile site will appear to Google as not mobile-friendly. The most common reason for this is the redirect code has not been added to every single page on a site. It must be in the header of every page. There is a very simple two-part test you can run to see if your redirect code has been implemented correctly:

(1) Run the homepage as a test through the Google Mobile-friendly Test

(2) Run the same test with a secondary page (like your About page)

If the test says your site isn’t mobile-friendly, then you’ve probably fallen victim to only having the redirect on one page. Check out this redirect support article for step-by-step directions on how to fix this problem.

DudaOne: DudaOne does not need to worry about faulty redirects, because the site lives on a single domain and does not have a mobile-specific URL. This is one of the key advantages of a responsive website.

Signal Site Configuration

Google currently supports three main methods for building a mobile-friendly site — responsive, responsive with dynamic serving, and mobile-only (Google officially doesn’t favor any of these three methods; they just care that you’re using one of them). Duda provides two of these options.

DudaMobile: When you have a mobile website with Duda, you install mobile redirects inside of the desktop site. These redirects only work for mobile devices. Google will detect that mobile visitors get redirected to a mobile specific website and this will allow Google to identify the configuration correctly.

DudaOne: Since DudaOne is actually considered a dynamic serving website, Duda indicates this as part of the settings of the site. Duda adds an HTTP header setting to the website that indicates that the website varies content based on the use-agent. This lets Google know that they should expect different content on different device types. Here’s what Google see’s on the website:



Make Sure Resources are Crawlable

This references the fact that some webmasters have decided to set up their robots.txt file so that in-page resources (such as images, CSS files and JavaScript files) could not be accessed by Google Bots. When this is the case, Google would get an incomplete picture as to what your site looks like and how it displays content.

DudaMobile: DudaMobile does not currently have a robots.txt file for each site, this means that bots are fully able to crawl the entire website and resources without issue.

DudaOne: A robots.txt file is automatically generated for each website. In this file, Duda makes sure that all resources inside of the website are crawlable and can be found by Google. This makes sure they see the same layout and content that your visitors will see.

rel=canonical” Tags

Google hates duplicated content, and if you have a separate mobile and desktop site with virtually the same text, this can be seen as an issue. Luckily, Duda provides a way around this.

DudaMobile: Each DudaMobile website has rel=“canonical” tags to ensure you’re not “splitting” your SEO ranking between your mobile website and desktop. This is pretty technical to explain, but essentially this tells Google that your mobile and desktop sites are related and that you aren’t just replicating content from a third-party for SEO reasons.

DudaOne: Since DudaOne builds one site that works across all device types, this isn’t an issue as technically there is no “duplicate” content. Each page has the same URL on mobile and desktop, and since they serve optimized content for each device, this is not necessary.

Slow Mobile Pages

If you want to appear high in search rankings, the load time of your website is important. This applies to both mobile and desktop, and though not a new ranking signal, it’s still as important as ever on every kind of device.

DudaMobile: Duda compares very well to other mobile website builders with a score of 71/100 for DudaMobile. (This is actually a very high score.)

DudaOne: For our responsive websites, it’s a similar story with desktop at 86/100 and mobile at 71/100. This is higher than many of the other site builders and most popular websites on the internet (sorry about the bragging) for both desktop and mobile. To find out how others ranked check out one of our most recent blog posts.

Mobile-Friendly Design

One of the biggest changes that comes with this SEO update is Google’s increased concern with the overall experience a website provides on a small screen. Currently, Google is looking at three main indicators to decide if a site has an optimized mobile experience: (1) Are links placed too close together and thus not clickable by big thumbs? (2) Is the text too small to read on mobile, thus requiring pinching and zooming to read? (3) Is the meta viewport tag included/configured on the site?

Since the first two mobile-friendly checks are ‘design’ focused, these are things that can potentially go wrong for any person designing and building sites. While Duda points you in the right direction to solve this, it’s not 100% foolproof and can still be done. Luckily while building the site, Duda gives you a view into how the site will be displayed which allows you to notice these during the designing of the site.

DudaMobile & DudaOne: When creating a mobile or responsive site on the Duda platform, Duda automatically turns the navigation into large thumb-friendly buttons from the beginning and makes sure that the font size is set to a friendly value (usually we set it to 14px). There is always the chance that Duda will pull in links lower in the page that will be placed too closely together, but this is something that can be solved while editing the site. Additionally, Duda provides easy-to-use buttons that will space themselves correctly. The requirement regarding meta viewport tags is included automatically in the site building process.


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Avoid Mobile Faux Pas

DudaMobile & DudaOne: All DudaMobile and DudaOne sites are mobile-friendly by default. But much like with a car, if you open the hood and start to add things and do your own fine-tuning, you could (in theory) break it. Some of these things include:

  • Flash
  • Auto-play video or audio
  • Annoying pop-ups
  • And custom code embeds that can’t be resized on mobile

Of course, this by no means should cause you to shy away from using development mode and adding your own code. It’s just a reminder to proceed with caution. If you do get into trouble, simply contact Duda Support and we’ll help you get things straightened out.

This mobile SEO update is truly a big one, and will change the world of websites and search forever. But really, it’s a fantastic opportunity to improve your web presence and make the most of mobile search.

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About Stephen Alemar

Stephen Alemar is the Content Marketing Manager and Chief Morale Officer at Duda. Stephen generally splits his time between writing for Duda and agonizing over the proper use of commas. He once brought in donuts for the office, and it is still considered a landmark day at Duda. His favorite Big Lebowski character is one of the bowling balls.
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