Another day, another surprise update to Google’s suite of SEO tools that absolutely no-one asked for.
Google recently made a significant change by removing the Mobile Usability Reports from its Search Console. Why you may ask? Besides wanting to constantly remind the digital world “who’s your daddy,” this decision has left many website owners and digital marketers wondering why this feature has been eliminated and how it will affect their digital marketing strategies. In this article, we will explore the reasons behind Google’s decision and discuss the implications it has for the industry.
What were Google’s Mobile Usability Reports?
Firstly, it is important to understand what the Mobile Usability Reports provided.
Mobile Usability Reports were a feature found in Google Search Console that allowed website owners to assess the mobile-friendliness of their websites. The reports offered valuable insights and feedback on how well your website performed on mobile devices. They highlighted any issues or errors that may negatively affect the user experience on mobile devices, such as text that is too small to read, clickable elements that are too close together, or content that is wider than the screen.
This information was invaluable for website owners to optimise their sites for mobile users, considering the growing dominance of mobile internet usage with 55% of all website traffic coming from mobile devices.
What made Google’s Mobile Usability Reports useful?
With the majority of internet users accessing websites through their mobile devices, having a mobile-friendly website is no longer just a nice-to-have feature – it’s a necessity. Google recognises the importance of providing a seamless mobile experience for users and, therefore, prioritises mobile-friendly websites in its search results. Websites that are not optimised for mobile devices may see a decline in their search rankings, resulting in lower visibility and fewer visitors.
By utilising Mobile Usability Reports, website owners were able to identify and fix issues that may hinder the mobile experience. This, in turn, could improve their website’s search engine rankings and increase Organic traffic from mobile users.
Why did Google remove their Mobile Usability Reports?
So, why did Google remove this useful feature? The primary reason appears to be Google’s shift towards a mobile-first indexing approach. Mobile-first indexing means that Google predominantly uses the mobile version of a website’s content for indexing and ranking in search results. This shift in focus signals Google’s recognition of the increasing importance of mobile optimisation.
In essence, the removal of Mobile Usability Reports suggests that Google no longer sees the need for a separate reporting feature specifically dedicated to mobile usability. Instead, the company encourages webmasters to embrace a holistic approach to Technical SEO and website optimisations, ensuring that the entire website is mobile-friendly for optimal performance in search results
So, how do we monitor the performance of mobile websites now?
While the removal of this feature may seem disappointing at first (and that’s putting it lightly, some of us are downright furious), it does come with some positive implications. With the emphasis on mobile-first indexing, website owners are now forced to prioritise mobile optimisation as a fundamental aspect of their digital marketing strategies. This change in mindset will undoubtedly lead to websites that are optimised for a seamless mobile experience across all pages, rather than just addressing specific issues identified in the reports.
Despite the removal of Mobile Usability Reports, it is worth noting that Google still provides several valuable tools and resources to help website owners assess and improve their mobile-friendliness. The PageSpeed Insights tool provides insights into mobile page speed and optimisation suggestions, whilst Google Lighthouse is an open-source tool that allows website owners to assess the quality and performance of their web pages, including performance, accessibility, progressive web app (PWA) compliance, and of course, SEO.
Furthermore, Google’s Search Console continues to offer various reports and metrics that can assist digital marketers in monitoring their website’s performance and identifying potential issues. While the Mobile Usability Reports may have been a convenient feature, the absence of this specific tool does not diminish the importance of mobile optimisation or hinder the ability to enhance the mobile user experience.
Google’s removal of the Mobile Usability Reports should be seen as a nudge (strike that, big fat shove) for website owners and marketers to prioritise mobile optimisation as a core aspect of their digital strategies. As mobile internet usage continues to rise, it is imperative to ensure that websites are responsive, user-friendly and tailored for mobile devices. While the reports may be gone, the need for mobile optimisation remains, and there are still plenty of resources available to aid in achieving this goal.
RIP Mobile Usability Reports; gone but not forgotten.
2016 – 2023