WordPress Jetpack Mobile Googlebot seeing desktop version instead of mobile
I’m doing what I can to get all of my sites ready for the big Google mobile update scheduled for 4/21/15. I got the notice in the Google Webmaster Tools for the site hosted through GoDaddy’s Managed WordPress that it was not mobile friendly. I was surprised since I am using the Jetpack Mobile theme, and I have spent a lot of time customizing the appearance to optimize the ad placements. It has been working well, and GoDaddy appears to have been caching everything properly – mobile users get the mobile version and desktop users get the desktop version.
So what’s up with Google saying the site isn’t mobile friendly? I go into webmaster tools and check the pages. I’m baffled. Some pages load fine and register as mobile friendly. Other pages it says are not mobile friendly. I get the same problems using Pagespeed Insights checking too. Some pages seem to register fine, with 99/100 user friendliness for mobile, and others don’t.
And then I just test with the Webmaster Tools “Fetch as Google” and select Mobile: Smartphone and “Fetch and Render”. What I don’t understand is why it shows Googlebot views the page as desktop version, and then on the same page they show what a visitor sees – and it renders the mobile version just right.
At first I noticed that in the list of blocked resources were many of the theme files. I checked the robots.txt file and removed all of those sections from being blocked. At first, it seemed like that fixed the problem, but it didn’t. Again, some pages loaded the mobile version fine and others did not. I then turned to Google to try to find an answer, and I found this page which said they fixed the problem by correcting issues with W3 Total Cache user agent settings.
But I’m not using any cache plugin. I know that the GoDaddy Managed WordPress hosting uses caching at a few different levels. They’ve gotten it working pretty well that my mobile pages get served from cache to mobile devices and the desktop version gets served from cache to desktop browsers. But why isn’t it getting it right for Googlebot mobile?
My first guess is that it is an issue with GoDaddy and how they have their cache rules set for different user agents. I contacted their support through the chat feature and I think it was a big waste of time. Of course, maybe the issue is with my configuration, but the person I chatted with certainly didn’t inspire much confidence. I did my best to explain my problem, and she started asking whether I can access my sitemap. I’m like what does that have to do with anything?? And then she went through a list of plugins that are reported to affect performance, including some of the sitemap plugins. Uhm….my issue isn’t with the performance of the site, but with serving the wrong pages to the mobile googlebot. She said she didn’t see any record of the same issue being reported before, so she figured it is something with my configuration. Ultimately, she said everything seems to be working fine, but she would clear the cache on her end and then I can clear the cache through the dashboard link and see if that fixes the problem. Of course it didn’t. I asked her to send the above link to the engineers to see if the way they use caching is similar to W3 Total Cache. But I’m not sure why their useragent settings would sometimes send the mobile version and sometimes send the desktop version to the mobile googlebot – and it seems to be dependent on which page I’m visiting.
So where does that leave me? Without a solution for now.