Google is changing its search results to benefit sites that are mobile-friendly. This has been widely termed Google’s “Mobile-Armageddon”. Google provided a test tool that you can use to check whether your site will benefit from these new changes.
I used Google’s test for some of the websites we have designed and found some errors. A particular website gave a major error but I was able to make some progress and improve on the display for the site simply by adjusting my robots.txt file.
I found out it was a simple fix and all I had to do was modify the robots.txt file to give Google access.
Background on the mobile-Armageddon
The robots.txt tells search engines what pages they shouldn’t index.
As more people have started using mobile devices, Google’s been modifying their search algorithms to make it easier for devices to find mobile friendly sites.
In February, Google announced that on April 21st, they would rely more on their “mobile friendliness” signal for ranking and that it would have a significant impact on search results.
The April 21st change is what some people on the web have termed as Google’s “Mobile Armageddon” since many sites will likely have a significant loss in traffic over the coming months.
Checking whether Google thinks your site is mobile friendly
By now, you’ve probably heard of “responsive design” and know that it helps to make your site mobile friendly. A responsively designed web site adjusts to the width of the device viewing it.
If the site doesn’t adjust to the width of your device and if you have to scroll horizontally to see the whole page, it’s not considered mobile friendly and you’ll likely see a loss of ranking as a result.
If you navigate your site with a device and it looks, navigates, and functions great, it’s mobile friendly.
However, It doesn’t matter if you see it as mobile friendly, but rather whether Google sees it as friendly.
If your site is friendly for you, go to https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/ and check that Google agrees with you. You should primarily check your home page and your main traffic generating pages. You might be surprised by the results, as I was.
Google’s Mobile Armageddon and Your Robots.txt File
Thankfully, Google’s tester is very informative and points out the exact issue for this particular site. It’s that the robots.txt file is blocking Google from accessing the resources it needs.
The robots.txt fix
Here’s the robots.txt file for the particular site.
It’s a Joomla site, which has much of the resources that Google needs stored in the “media” and “templates” folder. Also, there are some resources in “components”, “plugins”, and “modules”. So here are the lines that I’m going to remove:
You can find the exact resources that are blocked by Google by clicking on the “Show resources” link in Google’s tester. Compare the files there to your robots.txt to determine what needs unblocking.
Now Google agrees that the site is mobile-friendly.