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Google Emailing Non-Mobile Friendly Sites

     
10:33 pm on Jan 16, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Not sure if anyone here has seen one (first I've heard of it), but Google has emailed a friend of mine basically telling him that his site was a non-responsive site and that as a result it would do poorly in search results for searches performed from mobile devices.

I wonder if emails will go out about HTTPS as well.

Trying to get a copy of the exact email.
11:42 pm on Jan 16, 2015 (gmt 0)

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ZydoSEO - Thanks for that information. I needed to remove your description line, since we don't use those in this particular forum, but it's worth noting here...

Email seems to re-iterate they prefer responsive sites for mobile
2:27 am on Jan 17, 2015 (gmt 0)

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No problem... I'm all good with censorship... j/k! ;)
4:19 am on Jan 17, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I got one today for an old WP site I haven't changed in eons. It has been doing quite well and I didn't want to start fixing what wasn't broken, but for quite awhile I've wondered how it kept getting so much mobile traffic. Time to fix it I guess..
5:07 am on Jan 18, 2015 (gmt 0)

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FYI... Exact text of email from Google:

Google systems have tested 5 pages from your site and found that 100% of them have critical mobile usability errors. The errors on these 5 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
7:34 am on Jan 18, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Did your friend forward the whole thing including headers? Is friend a big spender on AdThingy? Do the contents of the letter agree with findings of Mobile Usability tool?

I Am Suspicious.
8:41 am on Jan 18, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Is friend a big spender on AdThingy?

Lucy... though I do think the intention of this message is to be helpful, the wording IMO isn't the kind of wording that Google would use in an email meant to be warm and friendly.

Assuming it's authentic, and considering the source I see no reason to doubt it, this is the official voice of an algorithm speaking.
11:17 am on Jan 18, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I just got this email. They "tested" 720 pages (of about 1,600), all failed.

The Google Mobile Friendly Test tool agrees, I only ran the home page because I have little reason to disagree. No effort has been made to make the site mobile friendly.

The only thing I wonder about is that the AdSense mobile rating is 3 of 5, so middle of the road I guess.

My traffic is about 17% mobile and not quite 10% tablet.

I spend nothing on Adwords, don't even have an Adwords acct.

14+ year old site, essentially no content changes for over a year, pretty much on autopilot, collect the check and go home (reasonably) happy.

I wonder if there is a way to get a "retest"?
.
4:03 pm on Jan 18, 2015 (gmt 0)

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The email is the same as I received, other than the number of pages checked. Headers are genuine and the message is repeated in my GWT account. Nor is it a surprise. I know the site is not mobile friendly. It has been ranking quite nicely for years and I am hesitant to cater to mobile traffic for that site.
4:38 pm on Jan 18, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I did a quick Google search and found a reference to the message on another forum. It was described as a message in Webmaster Tools, not as an e-mail.

Maybe this is a test? It's almost flying below the radar: If many people had received the message, we'd be seeing a mass panic by now.
5:51 pm on Jan 18, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I've received an email about this - definitely an email but it may also appear in my WMT account. It concerns one site I have which is only partially mobile friendly. But the mobile friendly pages cover 80%+ of the traffic.

I haven't checked the email yet so I can't be 100% sure if it's from G but my initial guess is that it is. I will check tomorrow.

Given the fact that that I can't see any difference in the SERPS for mobile and desktop in my sector I'm not overly concerned at the moment. I'm also not sure if the warning applies to page or site level.
8:51 pm on Jan 18, 2015 (gmt 0)

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If many people had received the message, we'd be seeing a mass panic by now.

That's what makes me think there's some criterion that we haven't figured out yet. This is the Google SEO forum, but has the letter gone out to anyone whose site does not use AdSense at all? Seems reasonable that a company's top concern would be with people they're potentially giving money to.

Google systems have tested 5 pages from your site

OK, so site size isn't a factor. I'm assuming this has to mean 5 pages out of, say, a no-more-than-20-page site, because 5 pages out of 500,000 is not how computers work. Unless one of those 5 is the front page ... maybe.

:: detour to gwt front page, where all listed sites say "No new messages or recent critical issues." ::

critical mobile usability errors.

I really wish it didn't come down to trying to figure out what "critical" means. Do the pages in question fail all elements of the mobile usability test? That would be a pretty impressive fail, since you can make three of the five (or was it six?) separate issues go away just by adding a single meta.

:: idly wondering why g### consistently thinks my html and js are minified (they're not) while the css isn't ::
9:14 pm on Jan 18, 2015 (gmt 0)

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got the email
one (very obscure sub-)page tested of a site with hardly any traffic
no adsense
12:39 am on Jan 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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makes me think there's some criterion that we haven't figured out yet

A Google Webmaster Tools account would be my first guess.

...
1:50 am on Jan 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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A Google Webmaster Tools account would be my first guess.

Well, that's like saying "only if you live in an oxygen-breathing country". Google doesn't send out mailings to randomly selected websites that they've never had any kind of dealings with. (Uh ... do they?)

one (very obscure sub-)page tested of a site with hardly any traffic

Yikes. One page? On a site big enough to merit the "sub-page" descriptor? If you feed the page into the Mobile Usability thingummy, does it fail comprehensively?

Here I detoured to check some random pages that I'd expect to come through as resounding fails-- things like ebooks or archival material that haven't changed since 2007. This takes us straight into the Twilight Zone as they proceed to give exact numerical results for an URL that returned a 404. (My mistake, but a useful one!)

Do you use plugins? They seem to hate those. I also suspect that the mere existence of an @media rule involving "max-width" may be enough to get you off the hook.
2:13 am on Jan 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I wonder if emails will go out about HTTPS as well.

Not all sites need to use https, so no.

Back to topic: I received one of those emails a couple months ago, just a week prior to launching the same site as mobile responsive. Yes this site does publish Adsense.

Regarding "non-mobile-friendly sites will be ranked appropriately for smartphone users..." this has been happening for a while now. I've seen many non-mobile-friendly sites loose mobile SERP ranking over the last several months.

The good news is, as soon as I re-launced the site as mobile responsive, a few days later it significantly gained mobile SERP ranking, the "This site is mobile friendly" tag appeared next to my listing, traffic increased over 60%, and Adsense income tripled.
10:27 am on Jan 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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By the way, the email refers to "smartphone" users. Not mobile and not tablet. I wonder if G have intentionally decided to introduce yet another classification or is it just a rather loose wording.

This site is mobile friendly


Possibly semantics but be careful about that statement. The serps don't use the word "site", the phrase used is simply "Mobile-friendly" which I assume refers to the page not the site.
11:53 am on Jan 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I have such an e-mail that went into my spam box. Not a good start, eh!

The site in question, on the e-mail, is a very old site and does not have GWT or GA, AdSense, etc., and like others may have mentioned, does very well in the desktop SERPs. It ain't broke!

The e-mail refers to mobile users, and says that it "will therefore be displayed and ranked appropriately for smartphone users." In other words, it indicates if you're viewing on a smartphone that site will either be marked, or demoted, or both. That's the interpreation, however....

When looking at the SERPs on a smartphone it actually classifies the site as "mobile friendly." That message is clearly displayed against the SERPs record. So, there's a mystery there.

Additionally, the site does work reasonably well on a smartphone. Another mystery over the classification.

If this e-mail is legitimate, which all the headers indicate it is, it's a misleading message from Google, imho.
12:09 pm on Jan 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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The serps don't use the word "site", the phrase used is simply "Mobile-friendly"

Yes, I placed the quotes incorrectly and also meant to say "page" not site. I wasn't too worried about it.

However Google often interchanges mobile with smartphone. GWT separates device names in the crawl tools, but all mobile devices are included when Google says "mobile responsive" which is Google speak for page layout being responsive to the screen size & resolution of smartphones, older mobile phones (non-smartphones) and tablets.

As the older mobile phones (non-smartphone) cease to exist, I predict the mobile phone and smartphone categories will merge into one, but until then the terms are anything but explicit.
2:40 pm on Jan 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Weird mail. Received one regarding just one of my websites, I have others with higher traffic and the same approach (also mobile friendly) so not sure why they say it's not responsive/friendly, that site was tested on smartphones and tablets before launch.
2:41 pm on Jan 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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The site in question, on the e-mail, is a very old site and does not have GWT or GA, AdSense, etc.

Interesting that no oxygen-breathing Google account is associated with it.

Presumably it has (or has had) a crawlable email address on a page somewhere.

The plot thickens.

...
2:50 pm on Jan 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I received one of these messages for an information site that is WP. No adsense, no adwords.
3:36 pm on Jan 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Interesting that no oxygen-breathing Google account is associated with it.


The address google used must have been scraped from the site as that's the only place that e-mail is located. It was not addressed to the admin or domain owner.

I have spent a little longer digging into that old site and agree it's not using responsive.

Is Google's plan to e-mail every site that is believes doesn't meet its criterion!

I still don't know why it's showing "mobile friendly" in the SERPs against the site when it sends such e-mails.
4:37 pm on Jan 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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...that site was tested on smartphones and tablets before launch.

@ explorador: A fast, free test at Google's "Mobile Friendly Test" site: [google.com...] will tell you why they think the site is not responsive and how to fix.
4:44 pm on Jan 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I got a handful of these in emails (because I have GWT messages forwarded to my email, d'oh) In all cases they were for old clients with WP or straight up HTML sites that are definitely not responsive or mobile friendly. And they probably never will be, because the clients aren't going to pony up to have them redesigned.

I don't see it as much of a big deal. Kind of stupid to list it as mobile friendly at the same time it sends emails saying it's not mobile friendly, tho.
5:31 pm on Jan 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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A fast, free test at Google's "Mobile Friendly Test" site: [google.com...] will tell you why they think the site is not responsive and how to fix.


One quibble: A site or page doesn't have to be responsive for Google to consider it "mobile-friendly." (We have several hundred dedicated mobile pages on our main site, and they get the "Awesome!" imprimatur from Google's tool.)
6:08 pm on Jan 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Yikes. One page? On a site big enough to merit the "sub-page" descriptor? If you feed the page into the Mobile Usability thingummy, does it fail comprehensively?

<-->

Do you use plugins? They seem to hate those. I also suspect that the mere existence of an @media rule involving "max-width" may be enough to get you off the hook.


@Lucy

not a big site, only 40 pages
the page fails in the usabilitythingy
no plugins, it's an old html site :P
can't be bothered that much to be honest, just posted my experience...
8:36 pm on Jan 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Heck I'm feeling snubbed, not invited to the party. I haven't received any emails and just checking, GWMT reports for each of my sites:

No new messages or recent critical issues.

I doubt if any of my pages pass the mobility test, or whatever it's called.

Maybe tomorrow or next week?
8:40 pm on Jan 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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IanCP, you may just have to wait your turn. ;) I can imagine that the vast majority of older sites are going to be on the radar, and that will likely be millions of sites and pages.
8:44 pm on Jan 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Mobile-Friendly Test: One homepage.
Reasons this page is not mobile-friendly
Text too small to read
Mobile viewport not set
Links too close together

Quelle surprise?
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