Google issued a warning to webmasters this past week to not implement mobile redirects on their websites. Google considers the following situation deceptive: displaying one URL in mobile search results, i.e. www.example.com, and redirecting the user upon tapping the URL to a page with different content and URL (m.example.com). Per Vincent Courson & Badr Salmi El Idrissi of Google’s Search Quality team:
Redirecting mobile users to improve their mobile experience (like redirecting mobile users from example.com/url1 to m.example.com/url1) is often beneficial to them. But redirecting mobile users sneakily to a different content is bad for user experience and is against Google’s webmaster guidelines.
The caveat to point out is that Google is trying to avoid having webmasters send users to redirected pages with different content. Webmasters need to remember that Google is in the business of providing users with the information they are looking for in as few steps as possible. Google is also in the business of providing users with an extremely user-friendly Internet experience and sneakily redirecting mobile users conflicts with this mission.
Google has noted a few scenarios in which it understands the reasoning for a mobile redirect:
- Display ads that temporarily redirect/load scripts for the purpose of tracking/monetization of content.
- Hacked sites.
In both scenarios, the webmaster may be unaware of the redirect, or it could be out of his or her control.
Google’s Search Quality Team provides three tips for avoiding a manual action for sneaky mobile redirects:
- Check if you are redirected when you navigate to your site on your smartphone several times per week.
- See if your web users are complaining about your site.
- Monitor your users in your site’s analytics data for unusual behavior or changes.