Google update will improve the rankings of mobile friendly sites

Google have confirmed they’re updating their algorithm on April 21st, 2015 to improve the rankings of mobile friendly sites.

By mobile friendly, they mean sites that have been designed with smartphone and tablet users in mind. A site that is mobile friendly should not…

  • Require any zooming in to view content.
  • Require any horizontal scrolling to view content.
  • Have menu links too close together.
  • Have text that’s small enough to make reading it difficult.

There are other factors too, but those are the main ones. If your website is running on WordPress, the chances are your site is mobile friendly. Most WordPress themes are “responsive” these days, which means the appearance of site responds to the device that it’s being displayed on, and display appropriately. The best thing to do is check out your site on your smartphone or tablet.

If it doesn’t look good, or you get errors, I’d definitely recommend updating it. Apart from losing Google traffic next month, you’re also losing a lot of potential visitors generally. The number of people using mobile devices will only increase in future!

Many thanks to SEO Mark for the heads up about the Google update.

Best wishes,
James

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How to stop WordPress.com inserting “href.li/?” at the beginning of links

Michael asks…

“WordPress is inserting ‘href.li…’ at the beginning of links, on my private blog. Why?”

If you have a private blog, WordPress.com sometimes inserts this into links automatically. It sends the visitor to the link but hides the referrer (your website). This means you can link out from your private blog but other website owners won’t know where the visitors are coming from. This helps to keep even the existence of your private blog unknown.

If you prefer, you can switch off this feature by going to Settings > Reading and checking the box next to “I would like my links to be public, without being passed through a referrer hider.” Don’t forget to Save Changes :-)

All the best,
James

Can I use a WordPress.com theme on a WordPress.org (self-hosted) website?

Marie asks…

I love the theme Motif and would love to use it for my business website. I have a package where I have wordpress as the hosting page. There is an option to upload a theme that has been downloaded as Motif is not part of the themes that is present on wordpress.org. Do you have a way that I can download the theme and add it onto the website?

The official place to download themes for your self-hosted blog is WordPress.org but as you mentioned, Motif isn’t included.

WordPress.org provides a rather ugly and cumbersome way of downloading a WordPress.com theme. You have to install something called SVN to download your theme from their SVN directory.

But I’ve discovered a site called Design311.com that hosts all the WordPress.com themes, making them available to download in a good old-fashioned zip file! :-)

Here’s the Motif page

Just click download, extract the Motif folder and then upload it to the ‘wp-content/themes’ directory on your self-hosted website. It should now be ready to activate through Appearance > Themes in your Dashboard.

Before you jump in though, please be aware of this message — that themes located on that website will not automatically update and therefore may break at any WordPress upgrade.

The chances are, it’ll continue to work for the foreseeable future, but… well… no guarantees :-)

Best wishes,
James

How to have an empty sidebar on your WordPress blog

Ilko asks…

“Hello, for some reason I can’t remove the sidebar. When I remove all the widgets, some default widgets appears. Do you know how I can fix this? Thanks a lot :) “

On some themes, removing all the widgets produces just a blank sidebar. But on a lot of themes, removing all widgets causes a default set of widgets to appear in your sidebar. This is often something along the lines of Search, Archives and Meta.

I found you can get round this by simply adding a single, blank text widget to your sidebar. And I’ve just discovered this is also the official WordPress.com solution (see bottom of page) to this problem.

All the best,
James

Understanding your WordPress.com stats if you have a static front page

If your WordPress.com site has a static front page (as we do at Happy Guide), you may have noticed something a little odd in your stats…

There appears to be two “home” pages logging! Here’s why…

One entry in the stats is the name of the page that is set as your front page. If you hover over this entry and look at your status bar (bottom left of your browser window), you’ll see it links to your static page’s original location.

This will be yoursite.com/home or yoursite.com/front-page, or something similar, depending on what you originally entered as the page’s permalink.

Then there’s another entry in the stats called “Home page / Archives”. If you hover over this entry and look at your status bar, you’ll see it links to your site root — yoursite.com.

So which one actually tells you the number of views of your home page? It’s the FIRST one — the entry that refers to your static page. Continue reading