Google Warnings about Faulty Mobile Redirects

Google has made it quite clear that it wants to see webmasters make their sites more mobile-friendly, but it is fighting a difficult battle in making webmasters understand exactly what mobile means. Some well-meaning webmasters have simply made a mobile version of their site and redirect all mobile traffic to that page. Others have gone a more sophisticated (and much more effective) route, implementing responsive design so all users get the same experience, no matter what device they are on. The problem with the redirect method is that it is often abused. Some site owners simply redirect all smartphone users to their home page, even if the user is trying to access a deep link on the site. Google does not want to see webmasters doing this because it provides a negative user experience. It has started to warn people who are using this kind of redirect for English search results that are shown on the US version of their website. Google hopes that displaying this warning will help users to decide whether they want to go to the website or not. Prior to the warning, there was a high chance that a user might just bounce when they landed on the home page instead of the deep content page that they wanted to see – but now they may just not click the link at all. Google understands that webmasters don’t want to lose traffic. So it has now started to show warnings to webmasters whose sites have faulty redirects. When those webmasters log in to their Google Webmaster Tools page they will see a message telling them that their redirects are improperly configured. The incorrect redirects will be displayed in the Smartphone Crawl Errors section of Webmaster Tools, and webmasters will also be shown instructions for how to fix the issue. Maintaining two entirely different websites for desktops and smartphones is a labour intensive process and is hardly ideal. Google encourages webmasters to embrace responsive design if at all possible, so that everyone gets access to the same design and the same content no matter what page they are on. However, if that is not possible Google suggests either redirecting users to the smartphone equivalent of the page they have searched for, or simply sending them to the desktop page. Showing a full web page that may be slower to navigate, but that contains the information the user is looking for, is better than forcing them to a page they did not ask to see.


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