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seo for responsive website design and development

Is viewing your site on a mobile device a pleasant experience?

Published on 28th February 2016

It has been three years since Google first announced that it will penalise sites that cannot be viewed correctly on mobile devices. Since 2015, Google has also started to put messages such as the one below on Webmaster tools to notify website owners about the mobile usability issue.

Google seo usability notice

This is an example of the type of messages
that can be seen in Google's Webmaster Tools.

Because website usability on mobile devices has become much more important in the eyes of Google, having a fully responsive website is no longer a luxury but something that is absolutely essential if you need it to be seen as widely as possible.

Types of mobile device issues

Google lists 7 categories of mobile usability issues:

1. Flash usage

Most mobile devices are not able to display Flash content. For this reason, visitors using a mobile device will not be able to view any Flash components of a web page. If you website is making use of Flash for its navigation or to display some content, this will need to be changed so that your site uses a modern technology such as HTML 5.

2. Viewport not configured

This message appears when your site doesn't contain the meta viewport tag which tells browsers how to adjust the page's dimension and scaling to fit the device that is used to view the page.

3. Fixed-width viewport

This notification highlights issues on pages where the viewport has been set to a fixed width. To fix this error, choose a responsive design for your site’s pages, and make sure that the viewport meta tag is set to match the device’s width and scale accordingly.

4. Content not sized to viewport

This notification appears when your pages are set with a fixed width that is too large for mobile devices and can't be resized to fit the screen, meaning that the pages will need to be scrolled horizontally to view all the content. This issue can also be present on responsive templates if the content includes some elements that have an absolute fixed size that is larger than the screen of a mobile device.

5. Small font size

This section notifies you that one or more pages of your site have the font size set too small to be read comfortably on a mobile device.

6. Touch elements too close

This report will tell you if touch elements, such as buttons and navigational links, are so close to each other that a mobile user cannot easily tap an element with their finger without also tapping the element next to it.

7. Interstitial usage

This report will highlight issues where a website is showing a pop-up when a website opens up on a mobile device. This is bad practise as the pop-up often hides most of the content and can be difficult to dismiss.

Fortunately, Google gives a lot of advice and produces guides to help web developers understand the best practises. One such guide can be found at

If you have not yet registered your website with Webmaster Tools, we recommend that you do so now. First, go to and login with your Google account (or register if you do not have one).

Next, click on 'add a site' and enter your site's web address (URL). Next, you will be asked to verify that the site is yours and a list of options will be listed to achieve that.

Once the verification process has been successfully completed, you're all set, but you may have to wait a few days for the data to appear. 


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