Can you read your blog properly on your smartphone?
What do you see when you look at it? Do your posts show as linked headlines, or is the whole blog squeezed into the tiny space your screen offers?
If it?s the former, your blog is using a mobile-friendly theme.
If it?s the latter, you?re going to be in trouble from 21 April.
What do you mean by mobile-friendly?
Let?s take a look at my new blog, Beginner Bloggers. I have created it specifically with a mobile-friendly theme.
How can you tell it is mobile-friendly? By watching the screen change when I adjust the size of my browser window.
If you grab the bottom right hand corner of your browser window with your mouse or cursor, you should be able to drag your page inwards. Watch what happens to your blog?s layout as the screen gets smaller.
This is my new blog as viewed from my computer?s screen (in other words, full size):
Now this is what it looks like when reduced to a tablet screen size in the portrait position:
As you can see, the sidebar has disappeared. You can find it further down below the main content of the page. The mobile-friendly theme is designed to move it out of the way, so that the reader can still see what is important, and the font text hasn?t been compromised by becoming too small.
Now reduce the screen even further to a smartphone screen size in the portrait position:
And everything has been displaced so my special offer to sign up my newsletter takes centre stage. The mobile-friendly theme has deemed this important as it is placed at the top of the front page.
But I don?t like that. Even though if you were to scroll down, you will eventually get to the rest of my front page?s content, as it is displaced into a single column.
Help, do I have to have a mobile-friendly theme for my blog?
If you are bothered by where your blog comes in the search engine results when someone types in a specific search term, or if you want your blog to be readable with a legible font size when viewed from a smartphone, then yes.
The first statement is particularly true from 21 April. That is when Google will be changing its algorithms, the mathematical elements that control how blogs and websites are indexed within their listings.
They will be giving more emphasis and preference to blogs and websites with mobile-friendly themes. Google believes the way forward in the future for reading blogs is via smartphones and tablets, rather than on computers. Any blogs or websites without a mobile-friendly theme or layout will be placed further down the system until they are eventually lost.
The reason is purely for financial gain. Google want to make money from advertising, and they have calculated this will be derived from mobile devices as more and more people use them to read content and make purchases. In fact, viewing preferences from these devices are estimated to be up by 50% over the past year.
Also, they will consider any blog or website that doesn?t have an up-to-date theme is not properly looked after and may soon end up defunct. Even if that isn?t true and it is regularly updated with new content.
So, if you want your blog to maintain its current status as viewed by the search engines, and be read by more readers from their smartphones and tablets, it is a very good idea to make that change!
But hang on, you didn?t like what you saw in the smartphone sized screen!
You?re right, I didn?t.
To confirm this, I visited http://www.google.co.uk/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/ and typed in my blog?s URL in the field at the top.
This is a website by Google Webmasters Tools that shows if your blog is mobile-friendly. If it is, you should get this notification:
And it also showed what would be visible on a smartphone?s screen:
But when I checked my Fairy Blog Mother?s blog, it looked like this:
And then I remembered I had installed a special plugin that allowed my blog listings page to be shown be default, instead of my homepage, which I knew would be more appropriate.
Now, if you?ve got a WordPress.com blog or a Blogger blog, this won?t apply to you. But if your blog is a self-hosted WordPress.org blog, you should consider installing this plugin:
Which will not only make your blog mobile-friendly, whatever theme you are using, but also allow you to determine which page shows up automatically when someone visits your blog on a smartphone.
This is how my Beginner Bloggers blog now looks like on a small screen:
Which I think looks much better!
But hang on, you said I couldn?t upload plugins in a WordPress.com blog
Yes, that?s right, you can?t. You don?t need to. That?s because WordPress.com have made all their themes fully mobile-friendly. So there?s no need to worry, everything has been taken care of for you.
If you?ve got a Blogger blog, I?m not sure about your themes. But there?s bound to be something in your Settings that helps towards making your blog more mobile-friendly, so go and have a look. And any Blogger experts are welcome to put the world to rights in the comments box below.
About Alice Elliott
Alice Elliott writes her award winning Fairy Blog Mother blog for beginner and post-beginner bloggers to ?explain things really simply? about blogging and WordPress. If you want easy to understand training using ordinary, everyday words and simple purple infographics, read her blog to find out more!