What To Do If Your Page has Mobile Usability Errors

Mobile-friendly pages are crucial since Google favors them more. Here is how to troubleshoot mobile usability issues.

Video transcript:

David: I was just going to summarize your issue. So, you’ve encountered some mobile usability errors that seem really odd in Google Search Console, and you’re trying to investigate those, right?

Tricia: Yeah.

David: If you’d like to share your screen again, go ahead and share.

Tricia: Okay. Let me share. Now, so, the ones… My understanding is that a lot of times, the “text is too small to read,” maybe a lot of times is a false positive. That’s what I think it might be. Now the “content wider than the screen,” I am not as familiar with Elementor working in that. I was going to go into the text part and kind of update the text globally, but I couldn’t find… I was finding the individual place, but I was like, I’m not going through this entire website and changing that. I want to find the global thing. And then “clickable elements to close together,” but here it says validation not started. So, I thought I had sent all these in, but I don’t know.

David: So, notice where it went to zero errors, and then suddenly on the date timeline, on a particular date, it started showing errors. Did you make a change to the website around July 1st?

Tricia: What’s today? The 20th? Um, possibly.

David: Okay. Or a couple of days before that? Have you made any significant textual changes to this website?

Tricia: The thing is, the client may have done some. The main thing I was doing was… Let me pull up the things I worked on recently. That’s not coming up. Okay, so one of the things I worked with was that the logo was huge, and when you viewed it on mobile, it would overlap all of these. So, I finally got in, but this was not easy changing this logo. It kept wanting to do it 1,080 by 1,080 pixels. So, I was able to get the logo smaller, and that I resolved, and that was probably like a week ago. So, it was after the 21st.

David: Okay.

Tricia: Let me see, hold on. Let me move this over here. Okay. So, see, that would have been around in here. And see, then it back up.

David: Okay.

Tricia: Anyway, I don’t know.

Dave: What is it? Have you looked at it on mobile yourself?

Tricia: Yeah, let me see, because I do responsive. I can’t remember. Oh, this is the one.

Dave: Yeah, I mean, you can see it right there, right on the iPad. Now when Google says mobile, I don’t know if they mean iPad as well as a phone.

Tricia: So, right. You’re talking about the requested quote that’s on both of these? Yeah. Okay. I’ll have to work with it and see about that because I’m not sure.

David: Go to the error on Search Console because I’m not sure that’s the error that is being thrown.

Tricia: I think that would be this one.

David: “Clickable elements too close together,” though. That’s usually like a…

Tricia: Yeah.

David: “Text too small to read.” And then, “content wider than screen” means screen means…

Tricia: It runs off the page. But see, I think it used to, but I think that it doesn’t now. It doesn’t run off the screen.

Dave: Well, David, how important is it? You have a couple of these things. Is that going to really affect your appearance in search results?

David: So, remember that Google is mobile first in their evaluation of our web for search engines.

Dave: Right.

David: So, we do want to make sure we pass all the mobile-friendly tests.

Dave: Right.

David: But what I’ve found is that the Search Console mobile usability graph throws a lot of false positives. So, I’ll notice that nothing has changed on the website. Like I didn’t change a thing, and suddenly pages will pop up in this report.

Tricia: Okay.

David: When they do, my first step is to validate it. Just validate it.

Tricia: When you say that, you mean click on here and say validate?

David: That’s kind of the first thing I do, is just go and say, validate fix and clear it out. Let Google take a second look. It’s almost like it hiccups there. Now, you can also use the mobile usability test, which is a look at these individual pages that it’s showing have errors, and it will show you a screenshot.

Tricia: Okay, “Cannot continue the validations process. Affected pages were found. Fix the issue and run the validation again.”

David: Interesting.

Dave: Well, maybe it’s having problems bringing it up because you were also, remember?

Tricia: I’m wondering if it’s something with… Because see, I’m trying to get them to move host.

David: So, let’s go to the mobile usability test. Throw one of these in there.

Tricia: Okay, So, where am I going?

David: Go to a new tab.

Dave: It comes up really fast for me.

Tricia: Okay, good. Okay. New tab and just type in mobile usability?

Dave: Oh…

Tricia: What are you seeing?

Dave: Okay. So, go back to your page. I don’t know if this is it or not, but it just seems like you should, from a perspective of your own usability, get those things corrected. Right? So, you saw one thing, but scroll down.

Tricia: Okay.

Dave: So, look at those two boxes to the left, Mold Remediation and Water Damage. I can’t even read those. I don’t know if Google is picking that up, but obviously…

Tricia: Yeah. They need to be changed. I need to go through the whole site.

David: That would not be showing up in this report and search. But they do need to be changed.

Tricia: Okay.

David: Go back to your Google search. We’re looking for Google’s mobile usability. There we go. Is your page mobile friendly? Put the URL in there. Run test. Alright, so there’s lots of value in this test. If you doubt whether Google could even read a page, throw it in here. If you want to see what Google sees when it looks at this page, throw it in here. There are a lot of things besides mobile-friendly, but theoretically, this is what you’re seeing in bulk in the Search Console.

Tricia: Yeah.

David: The page-by-page test and Search Console are running this theoretically on every page. But if something hiccups, it’s almost like something hiccups now and then, and then suddenly something won’t pass. Okay, So, not mobile-friendly. So, if you test a page… Screenshot. Okay, so this suggests to me that the CSS or something is hidden from Google.

Dave: Yeah. For some reason, it’s not able to…

Tricia: Let me remind you that this is the same page that had that really weird robots.txt.

Dave: Right.

Tricia: So, they probably did something with the CSS then?

David: Yeah. Because old school robots.txt would prevent Google from looking at the CSS and JavaScript, which it now wants to see.

Tricia: Yeah. So, I fixed the robots.txt file. So, you’re saying there’s something else I need to find and fix.

David: It might be that Google hasn’t realized that it’s been fixed yet. So, let’s go back to Search Console for a second. Scroll down to the page. No, under “too small to read,” scroll down and hover over one of those URLs and do the magnifying glass.

Dave: Why do they hide that? Why do you have hover? Because I already forgot that. I think he brought that up last week or the week before.

Tricia: He did, yeah.

David: Test the live URL. So, I notice it’s already crawled it all today. It noticed that the green box had crawled today. So, we’re just going to try to see. So, one of the things we’ve noticed with this site, and it’s pretty common with other sites, is that if the site doesn’t have kind of a critical mass, Google doesn’t visit it very often. It won’t notice things have been updated and might not have seen the robots.txt file yet, even though it’s been updated and changed. So, what we’re going to try to do… So, notice there were three items that were not mobile-friendly. Now there are two.

Tricia: Yeah. So, see, that’s been doing that for me. It’s been doing three, then two, three, then two. Okay, so not what?

David: If you tested the page under… Okay, screenshot. So, it’s not seeing the robots.txt.

Tricia: Can we make sure, I want to make sure, that it still hasn’t changed that robots.txt?

David: That’s exactly what I wanted to check. So, let’s just do robots.txt under and just make sure there’s nothing weird going on. Okay. Here we go. Everything’s fine.

Tricia: That’s what I did.

David: That’s fine. Okay. So, there could be something else preventing… Oh, go to the homepage for a second here. Uh, view a source on this. And I want to look for the style sheet. I want to make sure the style sheet is being rendered in HTTPS. Just do control F and then dot CSS, and just see what we get.

Tricia: Okay.

David: Ah, it’s on a CDN. Oh, there are several CSSs. Okay. So, interesting. So, this is the WP jet pack CDN.

Tricia: Jet pack, yes.

David: Right. So, let’s try something. Copy the second CSS instance. Copy that URL. Open a new tab, but paste it, but don’t hit enter. I want you to remove everything after .com/, and I want you to type robots.txt.

Dave: Oh…

Tricia: What’s that mean?

David: This CDN does not allow Google to access the robots.txt file on it. So, this is a forbidden file. Now that might be why Google has a hard time finding this style sheet. Let’s go back to the view source again, and let’s do the same thing with the other CSS file.

Tricia: Okay. Okay.

Dave: You could see if this was actually causing it by disabling the CDN temporarily. Right?

David: So, the first one that’s orange, grab that URL did the same thing. So, when Google does not see a robots.txt file…

Tricia: So, this is the secure server, cdn.net. Do you want off everything after that?

David: Let’s leave the IP address in there this time.

Tricia: Okay. So, start where the R is here?

David: Yeah, yeah. And new robots.txt, and then we’ll try it without the IP address.

Tricia: Not doing anything.

David: Remove the IP address and see if we can…

Dave: Hmm.

David: Go to the top, put the cursor at the end of the txt. Okay. Now hit enter. That’s really weird. But it does look like there is no robots.txt, and perhaps Google is…

Tricia: Oh, wait, here we go. Okay. Timeout. Okay.

David: There we go. Unable to connect to the origin server.

Tricia: It says, yeah. Hosting timeout.

David: Interesting.

Tricia: So, that would be the website host? Which is I’m trying to get them to change. I think they’ll be changing soon.

David: Dave is exactly right. If we turn off the CDNs and do the mobile-friendly test, that will confirm our theory that the CDNs are causing Google’s inability to see this.

Tricia: Okay. So, the plugins…

Dave: But it’s hard, David, even if that’s true, while Tricia is doing this, it’s almost hard for me to believe though, that would be the problem, just because, it would be the problem for anybody using.

Tricia: So, you know, a lot of people haven’t… So, I’m just going to deactivate Jetpack?

Dave: Uh, you probably should be able to go into the settings and disable the caching and all that stuff.

David: There you go. Yeah.

Tricia: I’m not familiar. I mean, I’ve used Jetpack before, but it’s been ages. So, performance?

Dave: There. Do you see the top two? Yeah.

David: There you go. Enable site accelerator. Turn that off.

Dave: Yeah. Try that one first and see what happens.

David: Flush cache. Okay. Now let’s reload the homepage. Yeah. Just go ahead and reload that because we want to reload the source code, right? That’s what we want to see. To make sure that it’s now…

Tricia: Okay. Okay. And then, we want to find CSS.

David: Oh, there are two CDNs, server and Jetpack.

Tricia: Okay. So, the server means their website host?

Dave: Well, if you go back to that WordPress management thing that David pointed out, there’s got to be like a… There you go, hosting settings. There’s got to be a way to turn all that off.

Tricia: Oh, see, I don’t have access to their GoDaddy accounts.

David: Okay. So, let’s test it now. So, there were two CDNs. That might be causing one of the problems. What is Jet pack CDN-ing this? Now, we can go to the mobile-friendly test with this CDN. You just go over a couple to the left. Alright. There you go. There it is. And hit refresh.

Tricia: So, it sounds like for the CDN, hosts are starting to put this on as well. And then people go into WordPress and put it on too?

David: Well, I think my new theory is that we’re CDN-ing something that’s already CDNed, and Google is having trouble with that. So, neither had a robots.txt file. Now when Google encounters no robots.txt file, it doesn’t exclude it. It just says, okay, I don’t know where I’m allowed to or not. So, what I was making sure was that there wasn’t a robots.txt at the CDN telling Google not to index it. So, the CDNs are allowing Google to crawl it. So, now our working theory is the two CDN… Interesting. Let’s view the test it page. Same thing. Hmm. Go to More info. Look at the page resources.

Tricia: 58 of 82 could not be loaded. Google bot blocked. What, why? It’s still like the robots.txt errors.

David: Well, there are all kinds of errors, actually. So, if you click on robots.txt, over that, there you go. There is the robot. So, let’s click on that, and let’s see what it says. Disallow everything.

Tricia: How do we get rid of that?

Dave: Um, you can’t.

Tricia: What do you mean you can’t?

David: It’s the way their CDN is set up.

Dave: Yeah. It’s somebody else. Somebody else owns that asset and they’re doing it that way.

Tricia: So, I mean, how do I fix the site then?

David: Turn off the CDN.

Tricia: So, we turned off Jetpack. So now, we have to turn off the CDN on their host end. Is that right?

David: And then test it, see if that helped.

Tricia: Okay. Yeah, I can get access to that.

David: When you go through that, do a look for all the CSS files. So, that is not a CSS file, the first one.

Tricia: This is the events. This is the same thing. Both of these are events API server. This is a redirection error for an image.

Dave: Well, no, it’s JavaScript, but it’s kind of weird.

David: Yeah. And Google bot blocking the Google API maps is fine. Google doesn’t want… Here is a CSS. There’s another error.

Tricia: So, that’s with that same CDM, right?

David: Yes. So, that’s the next step I would take to troubleshoot this is to see if you can turn off that CDN.

Tricia: Okay. And then, and then redo this mobile-friendly test and see what errors come up then. Okay. Okay, I will.

David: I’m not able to see the mobile-friendly because if the other error is it, it can’t read the CSS to say that it’s rendered mobile-friendly.

Tricia: Okay. And I can get access to that. So, I’ll reach out to them and hopefully do that today.

Dave: You should be able to, within that site, with the WordPress backend, like you’re doing, you should be able to disable this stuff. Somewhere in there, if not, then yeah, you have to get help from GoDaddy. This is ridiculous.

Tricia: Well, no, this is just a backup.

David: Yeah. I that’s, I think that’s the next troubleshooting step. What’s interesting about this question is that this report in Search Console is very frustrating because, as I said, most of the time, when I find an error, nothing has changed. Google just hiccups. But we went through the troubleshooting process, which was going to the mobile-friendly test, and it still showed an error. Okay. Now we know, oh, there really is an error here. And now, now we’re kind of working through that process. And we got to the right step where it’s like, well, what is it that Google is not able to access? And we found the CSS files, which it needs to access. They are in some CDN, but for some reason, Google isn’t even telling us that they’re not accessible. So, then the question becomes, how big of a deal is this? Let’s go to Search Console for a second and confirm if this is a big deal.

Tricia: Okay.

David: So, put the homepage in “inspect URL.” There we go. Okay. So, it’s submitted index. So, Google has a copy of it, but it has issues with mobile-friendly. So, is this going to shut down their business? No, but if Google is evaluating this from the mobile-first perspective, it’s going to throw off an error, right? So, is this a drop everything and fix it? No, because Google has a copy of it. It sees it in its index. It’s submitted an index. However, I don’t like knowing that Google has issues with it.

Tricia: Because if Google has issues, they’re not going to serve it up in the results as high.

David: Right. But it has not rejected it. It hasn’t not indexed it. So, that at least that’s true, right? So, requesting indexing will not help because we haven’t fixed the mobile usability. So, I think that once the CDN problem is identified and fixed, all that stuff’s going to clear out. Because the CSS controls that, it controls the viewport, which controls the width of the screen; it controls the size of images and texts. I’m sorry. Images have nothing to do with this text. So, once Google is able to see the CSS, it’ll be like, oh yeah, that’s totally fine.

Tricia: Okay. Okay. Yeah.

Dave: And normally, with a caching plugin, you get the option to say that you don’t want any of the JavaScript stuff or any of the images in bulk. You should also be able to disable certain pages that you want from being cashed.

David: Yeah. That assumes that they’re using the best plugins. And we’ve encountered problems with the site before, where they have two plugins that do the same thing. It’s like someone said, I set it up, and then someone said, oh, I need to do a caching plugin.

Dave: What do you guys think about the idea of, because you’ve got Cloudways migrate, what do you think about the idea of migrating over Cloudways and putting together your own subdomain on your own domain and then submitting that to the search and seeing if the issues show up or not?

David: Well, then you get into trouble with duplicating the site.

Dave: Yeah. Is there a way that you could handle that somehow?

David: You’d have to set up a redirect from the domain to the main, and that is just less than ideal. And it’s tough because you have to give the robot ability to see it. So, if you have a robot that that says don’t look at this, then the test tools won’t even look at it.

Dave: That’s true. So, I think in this case, I would probably get on with GoDaddy’s help because it’s managed stuff and just let them tell you what you should do.

David: Yeah. That’s it. Or figure out how to turn off the CDN.

Tricia: I want to see if I can figure out how to turn off that CDN instead of going to ask for help.

David: Okay. Well, this is the second thing on this website that you’ve come back with that’s very odd.

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