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.
Google Search Alerts Mobile Users to Badly Codes Sites
Google often tries to get Web developers to clean up their Website code so that mobile users can find the information they are seeking from any of their devices.
In May 2014, Google added new recommendations to help businesses streamline their mobile Web pages so that they load faster and perform better for mobile users, which can in turn help businesses increase their mobile transactions and sales. The improvements were being made through updates to Google’s PageSpeed Insights tools for developers, which allow them to see how their pages are performing for customers.
The tools allow developers to follow recommendations that can make pages load much faster. In addition, Web page developers should be sure to use legible font sizes to improve site performance for mobile users. Page designers should also be sure that they avoid plug-ins for mobile sites because they are typically unwieldy for mobile users.
In December 2013, Google introduced a checklist for mobile developers to help guide them in building better mobile-friendly Web pages. Among the key steps listed is to be sure that the mobile pages don’t frustrate a company’s customers when they access the pages using their mobile devices. Developers also should be sure that their site code delivers the desktop version of the site—or the tablet version, if available—to tablet users to maximize their experience, the checklist states. “Check that full desktop experience is accessible on mobile phones, and if selected, remains in full desktop version for duration of the session (i.e., user isn’t required to select ‘desktop version’ after every page load),” according to the checklist.
That’s a long-standing argument, of course, but in mobile, the competitive presence seems more acute. A recently published study found that the biggest rival to browser-based search (Google) is the rise of specific apps (such as Yelp’s). Making the browser experience more effective and less full of junk could be one way Google may be able to hold on to its audience there.