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Issue: Google Search Console Scan Detects Mobile Usability Issues

We have received this question from several clients and we almost always end up with the same conclusion, so we thought we would write a post on our research and thoughts on the matter. This is usually the email our clients receive from Google Search Console:

The following issues were found on your site:

Content wider than screen

Clickable elements too close together

So, how do we fix the problem of mobile usability issues being detected in a Google Search Console scan email?

First, these issues are usually associated with websites that are not responsive. Every website we have built since 2012 is responsive, meaning it conforms to the size of the screen, including mobile devices. So, by default, responsive websites should not have these issues. In addition, we have seen this alert on dozens of websites over the years and it may happen up to a few times per year, but never consistently. But we wanted to dive in further to make sure.

In reviewing websites with these “issues” on mobile devices, we can never find the problem. And, if left alone, the next scan usually doesn’t detect the issues at all. So, based on that evidence — at least with the websites that we build and manage — we believe that it most likely just a temporary glitch in how Google scans websites for mobile.

Our main question was: Why can Google scan the same website hundreds of times without any issues, then scan and find issues, and then scan hundreds of more times without an issue?

It just didn’t make any sense, which is why we are confident that, in nearly all cases, it is just a temporary glitch with their scan. Maybe the website didn’t populate properly when their robots scanned the page at a certain moment, which caused one of the site’s elements (a link, a button, etc) to become misaligned. There’s no way to know for sure, but, at least for now, these have been our findings.

So, the bottom line is, if  you receive this type of email regularly, then you should probably either login to your Google Search Console account and investigate, or have your website developer take a look to see what the problem might be. But if you only receive it occasionally, then we can assume it’s just a temporary glitch in their scan.

UPDATE: Case in Point: a client sent an email saying they received a message from Google Search Console regarding mobile visibility issues. The next day, we ran a scan of the site to check for any errors, and none existed. See screenshot below. If there were any issues, they would have been shown in this scan. So, even though we didn’t do anything to fix the issue, it had fixed itself, thus validating the findings in this blog post. 

Please let us know if you have any questions. Radiant Design is always here to help.

Contact us today!


Copyright 2022 Tom Lempner and Radiant Design.

Radiant Design

Author Radiant Design

Tom Lempner is a website designer, website developer, graphic designer, audio engineer, musician, marketing expert and SEO professional based in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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Radiant Design

Cincinnati, OH
Dayton, OH