Google’s big push to promote and reward mobile-friendly websites continues today with the news that it’s opening up its mobile-friendly test tool to developers via an application programming interface (API).
Google first launched the tool back in 2014 as an easy way to help businesses, bloggers, and developers figure out whether their website fit Google’s “mobile friendly” criteria. These include whether the site avoids software such as Flash, uses text that can be easily read on a small screen, and has content that adapts to suit a screen without requiring the user to “scroll” horizontally or zoom. With the mobile-friendly test tool, all you need to do is plug your web address into the search box, and Google will tell you if it passes.
The testing tool is a useful way to manually check whether a specific URL plays nice with mobile phones, but by introducing an API, Google is enabling webmasters and developers to integrate the tool with automated software. So, for example, this could be used to automatically track specific pages on a website to avert accidental changes that make a page not-so-suitable for small screens.
“The API method runs all tests, and returns the same information — including a list of the blocked URLs — as the manual test,” explained Google’s webmaster trends analyst John Mueller, in a blog post. “The documentation includes simple samples to help get you started quickly.”
The API launch fits in with Google’s broader push to treat websites that have been built with mobile users in mind more favorably. Last year, the search giant revealed it would begin ranking “mobile-friendly” sites even higher in search results, though it had been labeling sites as mobile-friendly for some time already. And back in November, Google announced it would “eventually” switch to using the mobile versions of websites, rather than desktop versions, in search result rankings.