As the use of smartphones to access the internet continues to grow, Google has recently announced that they are taking measures to ensure that mobile-friendly sites provide a quality user experience. If your mobile site isn’t configured correctly, you run the risk of it hurting your rankings on smartphone searches. Google went on to list two common mobile site misconfigurations as examples.
The first mistake that mobile sites commonly make are faulty redirects. This is when a desktop page redirects the a smartphone user to an irrelevant page on the smartphone-friendly site. Google illustrates examples of these bad redirects in the nifty little diagram below:
Basically, best practice for a desktop to mobile redirect would be to the equivalent smartphone page. For instance, the correct redirect on the diagram above for www.example.com/foo would be to m.example.com/foo rather than the home page. From a users’ point of view, this is about providing a quality experience as it can be frustrating and disruptive to be redirected to a non-relevant page, especially if the user is on a slow mobile network.
The second issue Google addressed is smartphone-only errors. Google lists four scenarios that can result in smartphone error pages:
404 error messages. If a user is accessing a desktop page on a mobile device, make sure it redirects to the equivalent smartphone page rather than displaying a 404 or soft 404 error page.
Smartphone-friendly pages that display as error pages. If content is not available in a mobile format, make sure the page redirects to the desktop equivalent.
Googlebot-Mobile user agents. Since these are identified as specific mobile devices, the response served should match the device used. Otherwise, this can result in a redirect loop.
Unplayable videos on smartphones. Sometimes websites embed videos that work well on desktop sites but won’t work on mobile devices.
Google’s increased pressure on mobile sites illustrates the importance of having a mobile counterpart to your desktop site and having that set up correctly. As we’ve mentioned in a previous blog, responsive web design is a great way to make sure your site is accessible on any device and is beneficially from an SEO standpoint. By stepping up your mobile SEO, you increase the reach of your website.