Google knows that if a company's customers can't get to the company's Website using their mobile devices, they can't buy anything from the site. And to fix that very vexing problem, Google has added a new "Smartphone errors" tool to its Webmaster Tools arsenal so that Web developers can find and fix coding errors that would otherwise prevent mobile buyers from reaching their targeted Web pages.
The new tool was unveiled in a Dec. 4 post by Pierre Far, a Google Webmaster trends analyst, on the Google Webmaster Central Blog. With mobile buyers becoming more prevalent every day, the new tool will be a lifeline for developers to be sure that mobile buyers can reliably connect with the Websites that they are seeking.
"Some smartphone-optimized Websites are misconfigured in that they don't show searchers the information they were seeking," wrote Far. "For example, smartphone users are shown an error page or get redirected to an irrelevant page, but desktop users are shown the content they wanted. Some of these problems, detected by Googlebot as crawl errors, significantly hurt your Website's user experience and are the basis of some of our recently announced ranking changes for smartphone search results."
These errant searches are critical for businesses to avoid because smartphone users are an increasingly large revenue source for companies in terms of online sales and customer contact. If those customers can't reach the sites they seek, then Web page developers need to know about the problems in the pages. That's the motivation for the new tool, wrote Far.
"Starting today, you can use the expanded Crawl Errors feature in Webmaster Tools to help identify pages on your sites that show these types of problems," he wrote. "We're introducing a new Smartphone errors tab where we share pages we've identified with errors only found with Googlebot for smartphones."
Among the errors that the new tool will detect and report are server errors when Googlebot received an HTTP error status code when it crawled the page; page "not found" messages or 404 status code messages; faulty redirects, which are smartphone-specific errors that occur when a desktop page redirects smartphone users to a page that is not relevant to their query; and blocked URLs, which occurs when a site's robots.txt explicitly disallows crawling by Googlebot for smartphones, according to Far.
"Fixing any issues shown in Webmaster Tools can make your site better for users and help our algorithms better index your content," he wrote.
Google is always working to find better ways for Web developers to make their pages more accessible to mobile devices. In August, Google issued a new set of guidelines for webmasters so they can optimize their pages for display on smartphones and tablets so that Web pages can load faster on mobile devices. Google also released an updated PageSpeed Insights tool to help webmasters optimize their mobile pages for best rendering performance.
Earlier in August, the search giant unveiled a new backward-compatible version of its Android Action Bar, which originally surfaced at the Google I/O developer conference this past May. The code was used in the conference's official event app and is now being released for free use by Google. The Action Bar comes on the heels of the company's recent Android 4.3 and Nexus 7 announcements.
Also released was the full source code for Google's feature-filled I/O 2013 app to help developers enhance their applications. The I/O 2013 source code provides working examples of ActionBarCompat, responsive design for phones and tablets, Google+ sign-in, synchronized data kept fresh through Google Cloud Messaging, live streaming using the YouTube Android Player API, Google Maps API v2 and more.
The Action Bar is a window feature that identifies the user location, and provides user actions and navigation modes, according to Google's Action Bar design guide. Developers are being encouraged to upgrade to the new code from old Action Bar implementations.
In July, Google began a push to encourage Android developers to create more games for tablets to attract game players to the popular devices. To help grow that market more, Google released its new Google Play Games app, which lets games players link up with friends online so they can see what they are playing and play together.