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In recent years, one of the benefits of the Google Search Console has been increased communication from Google and the notification of issues that might affect a site’s performance by email. However, one of the drawbacks of this can be that some of these messages can freak you out.

 For example, if you have a Google Search Console account, you may have noticed strange mobile usability issues report emails with the subject line “New Mobile Usability issues detected for site https://www.yoursite.com  – Message Type:[WNC-10030322]” – but what does it really mean? In this post, our SEO and Biddable Media experts will guide you through the most common Google mobile usability issues, if you’ve had mobile usability problems detected, and how to fix them.

What are the Most Common Reasons for Mobile Usability Issue Reports?

  1. Incompatible plugins

A common reason for mobile usability issue reports is the incompatible plugins alert. This means that the webpage includes a plugin that isn’t supported by mobile browsers.

Expert Tip: Fix this mobile usability issue with a web redesign that mobile browsers support.

2. Issues with the Viewport Property

Viewport not set

According to Google, this occurs when “the page does not define a viewport property, which tells browsers how to adjust the page’s dimension and scaling to suit the screen size”. Google suggests fixing this issue by specifying the viewport using the meta viewport tag.

Viewport not set to “device-width”

If the page’s viewport is set at a fixed width, it will not change dynamically according to the screen size or device used by the website visitor.

Expert Tip: This issue can be rectified by defining the viewport property as “device-width”.

3. Content wider than the screen

Content may appear wider than the screen if the webpage is designed for a specific browser or screen resolution.

Expert Tip: Design your site as a responsive website that changes its appearance dynamically based on the device used and scale images to the width of the page.

4. Text too small to read

One of the most common mobile usability problems detected is text on the page that’s too small to read. Unfortunately, we’ve had this issue with one of our clients all too recently! When text is too small to read, visitors have to pinch their mobile screen to zoom in and read the text or view images properly – and nobody wants that! It’s annoying and creates a poor user experience.

Expert Tip: You can fix this mobile usability issue by setting your font size to the optimum size available in the viewport.

5. Clickable elements too close together

ThisGoogle mobile usability issue appears when clickable elements, like buttons, links, and menu navigation, are too close together on the webpage. The issue may result in a user clicking on the wrong link, leading to a whole host of problems for your site. Google’s Core Web Vitals rely on a Page Experience score to assess your page’s overall user experience and when clickable elements are too close together it may result in a poor user experience and a high bounce rate that can negatively impact your position on the SERP. Learn more about the Google Page Experience and the new Core Web Vitals update.

Expert Tip: You can fix this mobile usability error by ensuring that your links are appropriately sized and spaced on your webpage.

For more advice on how to fix mobile usability issues, visit Google Search Console Help.

Examples of Mobile Usability Problems Detected

Google Search Console Mobile Usability Issues Email
Google Search Console Mobile Usability Issues Email

While some of these issues are valid, where a site has genuine mobile usability issues, what has perplexed our team is that Google Search Console shows that mobile usability affects only a small number of seemingly random pages in many cases. These pages use the same design or template as many other pages on the site, which are all apparently fine and do not fall foul of the mobile usability issues that Google Search Console has detected. The pages look fine visually, and when you test them in the Google Mobile-Friendly Test, they show as Mobile-Friendly.

Google Search Console Mobile Usability Issues Report Highlighting Small Number of Affected Pages
Google Search Console Mobile Usability Issues Report Highlighting Small Number of Affected Pages
Google Mobile Friendly Test Shows Pages Test as Mobile Friendly
Google Mobile-Friendly Test Shows Pages Test as Mobile Friendly

What we have been doing over the past few months to fix mobile usability is checking each of these issues out manually and, if we are confident, submitting a Validate Fix request. This request tells Google to recrawl your pages and check whether or not the issue has been resolved. In most cases, these are validated, although we have had some failures. Learn more about Validation and why it might fail.

Google Mobile Coverage Validated Fix – Here’s One We Did Earlier
Google Mobile Coverage Validated Fix – Here’s One We Did Earlier

Advice from Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst, John Mueller

Whilst at Brighton SEO, our Managing Director, Peter, took the opportunity to ask John Mueller, Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst, for his take on it. He responded that it is likely that Google’s bot encountered a momentary issue with the page when crawling, hence the report. However, if the page looks visually okay and if you can also run the Mobile-Friendly Test and the page checks out, then it should just be one of those things, and these strange mobile usability issues reports are nothing to worry about.

Google Webmaster Trends Guru John Mueller
Google Webmaster Trends Guru John Mueller and Peter

Hopefully, this post has cleared up any of your questions about detected mobile usability problems. However, if you’re still unsure about what the mobile usability issues emails you’re receiving mean, please get in touch with our Google mobile usability experts. We’ll do all we can to help you fix your mobile usability problems.