As much as this should have been a well-covered issue, I couldn't find a definite answer to this specific question anywhere.
We run a scientific website which displays lots of well-established data about biological entities (such as proteins, enzymes, RNA and more).
The site is currently not mobile-friendly (i.e. no meta viewport, horizontal scrolling due to the width of the tables and some of the elements etc.), and we're about to turn it into being mobile-friendly, using media queries and all that.
The site has some info pages (not a problem) but the heart of the site, the vast majority of pages, are one-page-per-each-main-entity (such as a protein or well-known RNA sequence), where each entity page is full of data: text, tables, images, in-page searches.
Obviously, making these entity pages mobile-friendly is the primary challenge, since these are the harder to convert and are the long-tail of the site.
There are 2 issues though:
Some of the content is very hard to alter to make it mobile-friendly, specifically those multi-column tables (and they can't just turn from horizontal to vertical, since it would make no sense from scientific and usability points of view), or wide images that display genomic mappings.
We think (still need to be confirmed by A/B testing but this is going to be lengthy and expensive) that most of the scientific usage of the site is done by desktop, while mobile users are more interested in the main pieces of data which can be several summary texts, one main image etc. - about 1/3 of the full entity page.
These make us want to implement the mobile-friendly design such that about 2/3 of the content is only visible on tablets and desktops, but not on mobile phones. It probably won't hurt the mobile phone users who don't do deep scientific research from their phones, but it will provide very useful pieces of data for them; basically answering their main question: "What is this entity about?"
- It's not '98-style black hat keyword hiding
- It's not cloaking
- It's genuine and aimed to provide usable mobile phone experience and usable tablet/desktop experience.
But, It's still hiding lots of portions of the site.
My questions are:
1. First and foremost, is this going to penalize us in any way?
2. Will it cause Google to only consider the mobile-phone-visible content for its ranking?