Google has always been quick on punishing those actions that seem violation of propagated Google guidelines. Now, the search engine has taken into notice complaints of irrelevant and manipulated mobile redirects. In its official webmaster blog post, the company has announced severe manual penalty for unwanted and sneaky mobile based redirects. This is no different as Google always punished the law breakers, but the company is now making it clear.
Google's Warning Against Irrelevant Mobile Redirects
Google allows webmasters to redirect a desktop page to a mobile page with slight different content. Since, a desktop page usually has a lot of text content, images and navigation, Google lets webmaster cut them short for mobile users, as long as the page is similar enough. But if it looks like sending users to an irrelevant site, then Google triggers red.
Optimizing the smaller space of a smartphone screen can mean that some content, like images, will have to be modified. Or you might want to store your website’s menu in a navigation drawer (find documentation here) to make mobile browsing easier and more effective. When implemented properly, these user-centric modifications can be understood very well by Google.
But this is against the guidelines:
The situation is similar when it comes to mobile-only redirect. 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.
Google admits that a desktop page of a responsive website could be seen navigating to an irrelevant mobile page if the website is hacked. But as you are still responsible for your site, Google will issue a manual action. When this is done unintentionally, Google suggests a warning to register with the Google Search Console. Google listed three ways to be notified such issues:
- Check if you are redirected when you navigate to your site on your smartphone
- See if your users are complaining
- Monitor your users in your site's analytics data