Google Search Alerts Mobile Users to Badly Coded Sites

Mobile users will get messages from Google explaining why Websites don't easily appear on their devices. Google hopes businesses will fix their code.

Mobile Websites

Google Search launched a service that will alert mobile device users when they find a Website that won't be fully compatible with their devices so they can learn why the sites they are seeking aren't working properly.

The new alerts, which are showing up in brief text notices in Google Search, are being created by Google algorithms when Web pages are detected that include code that won't work on their devices, according to a July 14 post by Keita Oda, a Google software engineer, and Pierre Far, a Google webmaster trends analyst, on the Google Webmaster Central Blog.

"A common annoyance for Web users is when Websites require browser technologies that are not supported by their device," wrote Oda and Far. "When users access such pages, they may see nothing but a blank space or miss out [on] a large portion of the page's contents."

That nagging problem is being addressed by the new alerts, which will describe when such issues arise, they wrote. One example of this, they wrote, is that since Adobe Flash is not supported on iOS devices or on Android versions 4.1 and higher, a page whose contents are mostly Flash may generate a note to a Google Search users that states "Uses Flash. May not work on your device." Users may then get an option to "try anyway" or to "learn more," the post explains.

To avoid these kinds of messages to users, Web developers need to fix their sites so these types of conflicts stop occurring, wrote Oda and Far. "Fortunately, making Websites that work on all modern devices is not that hard: Websites can use HTML5 since it is universally supported, sometimes exclusively, by all devices."

Information to help fix these issues is now available to Webmasters through several resources that were recently unveiled by Google, including a Web Fundamentals Website that describes modern best practices for sites, and a Web Starter Kit that offers a starter framework to developers that supports the Web Fundamentals best practices right out of the box, wrote Oda and Far.

"By following the best practices described in Web Fundamentals, you can build a responsive Web design, which has long been Google's recommendation for search-friendly sites," they wrote. "Be sure not to block crawling of any Googlebot of the page assets (CSS, JavaScript, and images) using robots.txt or otherwise. Being able to access these external files fully helps our algorithms detect your site's responsive Web design configuration and treat it appropriately. You can use the Fetch and render as Google feature in Webmaster Tools to test how our indexing algorithms see your site."