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Recently I was told that button sizes are important for SEO.

Google recommends that buttons should be 48px tall.

https://developers.google.com/speed/docs/insights/SizeTapTargetsAppropriately

Google provides a lot of recommendations for good user experience.

But I think there is a misconception between what Google recommends for users and what is good for Google rankings.

Do button sizes really affect SEO?

  • That is guideline for button size of diff. mobile devices and website to improve use experience. That is not about SEO. – Helping Hands Jun 17 '15 at 9:02
  • I believe this too, but it would be good to get more comments on this so I can go back to the agency with evidence that button size has no impact on SEO. – richardstelmach Jun 17 '15 at 9:07
  • you can simply show this link by checking your website score : https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/ That guild is to improve this google page speed score. Here you will also get score of user experience. – Helping Hands Jun 17 '15 at 9:10
  • unfortunately that link flags up some 'tap targets' being too small. Though the ones it flagged wouldn't be classed as important going by the google guidelines and it actually misses key buttons that are important and smaller than what google recommends. – richardstelmach Jun 17 '15 at 9:14
  • Shame Goggle doesn't listen to its own advice, navigating through Google maps whilst in your car is awful, must be 8-12px tall links. – Simon Hayter Jun 17 '15 at 9:32
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The downside of Google is you can never now for sure because they like their secrets, and the size of the operation makes it difficult to be sure that the system works even in the way they think it does. But in this case probably yes.

It is possible to get messages in webmaster tools along these lines:

Google systems have tested 137,000 pages from your site and found that 32% of them have critical mobile usability errors. The errors on these 44,100 pages severely affect how mobile users are able to experience your website. These pages will not be seen as mobile-friendly by Google Search, and will therefore be displayed and ranked appropriately for smartphone users.

I think that's about as clear as Google gets on any matter.

You can use their testing tool to check your site: https://www.google.co.uk/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/?url=www.bbc.co.uk

  • thanks. Running the site i'm looking at through the mobile friendly tool comes back with a success. Yet the SEO agency are asking us to make the buttons bigger due to the google UX guidelines. :-( It also brings back a different result to the speed test tool that does flag up some buttons (albeit, very insignificant links on the page) – richardstelmach Jun 17 '15 at 10:30
  • without the agency involved I would be inclined to follow Google's advice 100% and implement any other good UI that doesn't downgrade you – CodeMonkey Jun 18 '15 at 11:22
  • with the advice to change coming from an SEO agency you have hit a different problem, whether or not Google cares about your buttons, but not following all of their recommendations you are giving them excuses if their results are disappointing... thought I may be a cynic ;) – CodeMonkey Jun 18 '15 at 11:23
  • true enough. I actually agree that the buttons should be at that size, but only from a usability perspective. Not from an SEO perspective, so it slightly niggles me that SEO is dictating the size of buttons, but then again SEO has effected design for a while! It only matters when in some cases, secondary or unimportant buttons are made needlessly large (from a usability perspective). But i may just be being picky! – richardstelmach Jun 18 '15 at 14:26
  • I agree that SEO should not dictate Usability, but I suspect Google would argue that it is usability dictating SEO ;-) – CodeMonkey Jun 18 '15 at 15:12
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Button size doesn't matter but the margins around them, AKA how far they are away from other tap targets does.

How much does it matter? Not much. We have various warns about this too for a couple widgets, but frankly it's fine, and we are not gonna fix it. Still ranks, still get the mobile tag.

Now if your whole template was full of these, it would be different and worth fixing to make a good UX. It would have a very small effect on SEO too, but not much. Instead, Google primarily bases their mobile flag from viewport scaling and font size.

  • this sounds more realistic to me. According to the google design guidelines, the space around it AND height matter but only to important buttons. How google can determine that, i don't know. – richardstelmach Jun 17 '15 at 13:58
  • @richardstelmach aye it's only a guideline and btn is only a class. Real input type buttons are already themed via the browser UI so there is no need to size them. Also consider if you didn't use btn class....they would all be links, at standard line height. IMO it's still too far fetched to think Google can understand the design of a site and how it relates to (thematic) focal enough to say "that btn should be larger." – dhaupin Jun 17 '15 at 14:49
  • No. There is no ranking factor or metric for button size, however, there is the secondary effect that some users may not be able to use your site. – closetnoc Jun 17 '15 at 16:13
  • Yep, i agree from a usability perspective. Just wondered if it really effected SEO. I wondered if it had a knock on effect. In that - if it increased bounce rate........and bounce rate effected SEO. Ie. an indirect effect. – richardstelmach Jun 18 '15 at 14:27
  • @dhaupin, i agree. In most cases it's good to have big buttons anyway. But in some cases, if you followed the guidelines to the letter, you would have to make secondary or tertiary buttons/inputs needlessly big, just to satisfy google. (ie - it could have a negative impact on usability in some cases, in these cases it bothers me that you would then have to make them big anyway, because Google says so). Unless of course, button size has no impact on SEO. – richardstelmach Jun 18 '15 at 14:29
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I think it's important to clarify context. As suggested in comments, the linked article refers to tap-targets on mobile/touch devices...

roughly 7mm, or 48 CSS pixels on a site with a properly-set mobile viewport.

"48 CSS pixels ... with a properly-set mobile viewport" does not necessarily mean 48 literal screen pixels, since a "CSS pixel" is relative to the viewport. The easy to measure physical metric here is roughly 7mm.

If tap-targets are considered too small then your mobile-experience rating is going to be lower and Google might not give you the "Mobile-friendly" badge in the mobile SERPs. Mobile "friendliness" is supposedly a metric that Google now uses as a ranking factor in mobile SERPs (one of many), but it could also affect click-through rates if you don't have the visible "mobile-friendly" badge.

So, yes button size can affect mobile SEO. How much it affects SEO is another matter.

  • Would Google be able to identify button size though as there is various different ways to create size in CSS. (it could be doing with padding, height, both, min-height and varying units (px, %, em....and any other i'm not aware of). As you say - it's relative also. As the site i ran through the google test successfully (despite having small buttons), i'm still not fully convinced. Though accept, that's usually the case with most SEO theory. – richardstelmach Jun 17 '15 at 13:21
  • Google doesn't just examine a few values in the CSS, it will be using some kind of rendering engine that spits out a calculated figure based on screen size and pixel density. And it will no doubt test on various screen sizes, since Android actively supports multiple screen sizes/densities. How Google determines "success" in anyone's guess - there's certainly going to be ranges and thresholds of "success" involved. Which also means the "SEO-guy" is not necessarily correct - but they might be edging on the side of caution. – DocRoot Jun 17 '15 at 14:08
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Button size can affect the usability of the website. Meaning, if the button is too small, users won't love to stay longer on your site, leading to a higher bounce rate. Google might consider that the user wasn't able to find what he is looking for on the website. This is just one of the factors.

Just remember that your site must be able to pass Google's mobile-friendliness (https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/). Google has confirmed it as one of the ranking factors.

  • I believe it can pass the mobile friendly test, with buttons smaller than the recommended size. I did wonder if it had an indirect effect, as you have suggested. In short - this would mean that button size does not effect SEO. (as you could have for example, a button that is 1px smaller than what google recommends). This is unlikely to impact usability, and there are many other factors that could effect bounce rate. – richardstelmach Jun 18 '15 at 14:30

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