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Starting this week, Google has promoted the use of mobile to the point where they are labeling mobile friendly sites with a tag in the search results.

For much of my browsing, I use Opera 11.6 and to access some sites, I have to use Firefox 15 (pain). This is where the madness begins...

When I try to run Google's page-speed insights and test any website with it inside the Opera browser, the progress bar goes to a crawl at about 90% then stalls at 99% and never completes. In Firefox, I get results very quickly.

Today, I got word from Google as follows:

Is your site mobile-friendly? Starting April 21, Google Search will be expanding its use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. Double-check example.com and your other sites are ready for this change by testing pages of your site with the Mobile-Friendly Test tool.

I then proceed in Opera to run the test. I instantly get an error in a red box stating: "Failed to fetch the requested URL. Dismiss"

Naturally I turn to Firefox and try again, and walk out with the exact same results.

A week ago I did the exact same tests, and I was told that my site is mobile friendly, yet I did not make any changes to block out Google.

When I tested my site with curl command line tool, I receive the results as expected.

So my question is are Google's tools really broken or did they change their IP address and/or user agent to the point where they are acting like someone without authorization to access any site?

And yes I am still able to test my site on webpagetest.org.

Any ideas?

UPDATE:

I just logged into the server where the website in question is hosted, and Apache has not made a log of a request from Google when I ran the mobile friendly test.

  • I can use the tools with my sites. When you say "acting like someone without authorization to access any site", does that mean that you block other IP addresses? – Stephen Ostermiller Apr 23 '15 at 17:30
  • I block on user agents known to just download content for malicious purposes – Mike Apr 23 '15 at 18:16
  • "Starting this week" - not just this week, search results have been showing the "Mobile-friendly" tag for months. What has "started this week" is the supposed addition of "Mobile-friendly" as a ranking factor. "did [Google] change their IP address" - that is possible. "Firefox 15" - The latest version is Fx 37. For most of its tools, Google only claims to support the last two major releases of the mainstream browsers. In my experience, those users who upgraded passed Fx 3.6 have kept reasonably up to date. You do at least need to test in the latest browsers. – MrWhite Apr 23 '15 at 21:09
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Firstly trying to verify Google based on IP addresses is a bad idea as Google does in fact change the IP addresses of their services quite frequently. Furthermore their tools such as the Page Speed Test tool don't use a single IP address for outbound communications rather they are able to use the full range of Google IP addresses given the fact that they run on many clusters of machines.

It is possible that there was a temporary glitch in Google attempting to access your site and the fact that your server logs don't show any connection attempts from Google would tend to support this. The other place to check would be in any firewalls or security gateways between your server and the internet. Check those logs and see if something has been blocked at roughly the same time that the page speed test was run, if it was take a look at what was blocked. Machine based security filtering can result in false positive tests depending on how the request was made, this could be a glitch on Google's side in the way that they connect, however Google doesn't use user agent strings or addresses which identify Google when doing the page speed test, it uses agent strings and other forms of browser identification such as screen sizes etc to simulate a mobile device and simulate a desktop browser as such you may be accidentally blocking a connection which Google is trying to use to access your site for the speed test. For all intents and purposes it may show up as a malicious connection as it is trying to download the entire page and all static content contained therein and is trying to act like a normal web browser while at the same time being run by a machine and not by a human.

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