Google is tightening the knot on webmasters who knowingly or unknowingly send deceptive mobile-only redirects.
In most cases it is perfectly acceptable if your mobile content differs slightly from your desktop content. Optimizing for a smaller screen often means that content such as images might have to be modified for better user experience.
Converting your website’s menu into a navigational drawer for better mobile experience is also considered an acceptable and, in most cases, desirable change.
However, there are mobile-only redirects that tend to send mobile traffic to websites and content that the user did not intend to visit.
Google is now warning that such sneaky mobile redirects can result in a manual action penalty.
Why just a warning, why not penalize all websites that engage in such user deceiving tactics?
As Google has explained, a lot of webmasters are completely unaware of such mobile redirects. In other words, there is no direct intend on behalf of the website owner to engage in user deceiving tactics.
In this regards, Google gives two possible explanations:
- Advertising schemes – a script could have been installed in the back-end of the website in order to redirect mobile users to a completely different results page.
- Hacked website – likely the work of a spam loving affiliate who has gained access to your website and has installed spammy scripts to redirect mobile traffic.
In order not to get spanked by Google, try and detect if your website is doing some sneaky redirects before the search giant does.
- Do a manual check using your mobile phone.
- Monitor what your users have to say. Search on forums and social media channels to see if users complain about your website leading them to unwanted content.
- Check your analytics! Examine your analytics reports and pay special attention to mobile traffic. See if you can spot any anomalies, such as extremely high bounce rate.
Considering that more than half of Google searches happen on mobile devices, this warning comes as no surprise.
Search engine user experience is based on accurate results. If you are looking for a local roofing company, you should not be redirected to a “cheap Viagra pills” without your content.
Biased results are something that can be regulated by the user, but mobile redirects are not. That’s why, someone needs to take responsibility.
Ensuring proper quality control, in order to present the user with better experience, is a founding element of Google’s policies. To do so, manual actions against spammers must be taken. Even though a small percentage of such actions may end up being enforced wrongfully.