The following error messages pop up in my Google Search Console (GSC) intermittently and I’ve spent countless hours trying to resolve them. I wrote this post so that others do not waste time like I have. The error messages are:
- Text too small
- Clickable elements too close together
- Content wider than screen
Despite several visual checks and delving into the code, I’ve never actually pinpointed the elements that cause these errors to be triggered.
I am now convinced that these errors are not errors at all but simply a bug in GSC. And I have some reasons to back up this theory.
Firstly, the errors only ever happen on one or two pages at a time. This indicates that it is not a site-wide issue but specific to certain pages. Some of the pages that GSC flagged these errors for contained just text, formatted exactly the same as the rest of the website. There was nothing different about these pages.
Secondly, these errors show up for seemingly random pages every 3 or 4 months. It is never the same pages affected.
Thirdly, simply clicking “Validate Fix” in GSC resolves the issue straight away. When you validate a fix, Google checks that it has actually been fixed before marking it as resolved. So, essentially, GSC is saying that the issue no longer exists.
How to resolve these error messages
As stated above, simply clicking “Validate Fix” is the accepted resolution (in my mind anyway). I do not believe that these are real error messages that need to be investigated.
Whenever I get them now, I just log on to GSC, click the “Validate Fix” button and forget about them until next time.
What causes these error messages
It should be noted that any speculation about the cause of these error messages would be pure guesswork. However, I can make an educated guess.
I think GSC is testing the page before it has been fully rendered. So perhaps the CSS hasn’t completely loaded, leading to incorrectly formatted website elements that trigger the error messages above. This could happen, for example, if the web server has a temporarily high load – this would also explain why it happens so intermittently and affects different pages each time.
Now, I’m not suggesting that these errors should be ignored completely. There are probably plenty of times that these errors are triggered for legitimate reasons such as the text really being too small, content actually being wider the screen or clickable elements being too close together.
However, my experience is that when they appear to affect just a couple of pages and clicking the “Validate Fix” button resolves them straight away, there is really nothing else to do and you shouldn’t let it bother you too much.
And, following discussions with other website owners, I am not the only one who has been through this experience and drawn the same conclusions.