The mobile web represents an increasingly large slice of the pie when looking at all Internet traffic, and that’s something Google has embraced from very early on in the “smartphone revolution.” A few years ago, the company acknowledged the importance of sound mobile design and SEO optimization by releasing its initial Mobile-Friendly Testing Tools. The key feature of the tool was to browse to any user-provided URL and “load” the webpage into the tool. Then, common mobile design errors or problem areas were identified, reported, and more easily fixed.
Since its inception, the Mobile-Friendly Testing Tool has been virtually unchanged. That is, until May 2016. A new iteration of the mobile website testing mechanism has been added to Google’s popular Search Console utility, alongside the original version of the tool. The new iteration comes with several great changes and benefits that are worth reviewing before it becomes the sole mobile testing utility in the console.
- Bigger Display Port: Google’s own Android devices have seemingly increased in screen size every year since introduction, so it’s nice that the world’s largest search engine finally recognized this fact with a larger viewport on its Mobile-Friendly Testing Tool. With the change, the tool now resembles an approximately 5-inch mobile device screen. That’s approximately the average in today’s marketplace, with Google’s own Nexus 5X featuring a 5-inch screen and the iPhone 6 series featuring a 4.7-inch screen on the standard model.
- Easier Error Reporting: The whole point of the mobile testing tool is to scan for page errors that might harm a website in one of two ways. The tool finds HTML code errors and potential search engine optimization issues, and then reports on those issues in an itemized list below the viewport. Previously, those errors were displayed in small text that was hard to find or read in some cases. That problem is no more. The testing tool now prints errors in larger text, and includes a more verbose error description so that any identified issues can be resolved as quickly as possible.
- Ongoing SEO Guidance: Being a mobile-friendly website isn’t just about fixing a few HTML errors now and then. Instead, it’s about ongoing monitoring, change, and improvements that better meet the evolving needs of the mobile customer. The new version of Google’s Mobile-Friendly Testing Tool recognizes this, and provides a few “next steps” after each website test. The next steps provide key information about what else needs to be done when maintaining a mobile website in the increasingly competitive environment that is mobile, localized search.
- Room for Growth: The previous version of the mobile testing tool was rather static, with a certain inability to evolve as the mobile web changed and grew. Recognizing the fast pace of change in this crucial space, Google equipped the new version of its tool with the ability to benefit from ongoing feature additions, test modifications, and more. This means the tool should be more useful and sustainable over the long-term, providing better insights to users each time they test their website. This makes the tool invaluable for ongoing SEO enhancements that help beat the competition.
A Much-Needed Overhaul for the Mobile Testing Tool
It was time to move beyond the initial version of Google’s Mobile-Friendly Testing Tool. The old version, while certainly useful, was looking a bit dated. With the latest set of changes and enhancements, testing mobile websites will now be easier than ever, with better error discovery, easier error reports, and helpful “next steps” that make continual SEO improvements easier to implement.