Google has recently warned webmasters that it would take action if they were found to be using sneaky mobile redirects. Whilst Google supports mobile redirects to pages offering an enhanced experience for mobile users (e.g. from example.com/url1 to m.example.com/url1), it does not allow redirects to completely different sites or content. The latter is a practice often used by mobile advertising schemes in order to direct users to a site they did not initially request. This can be frustrating and makes the mobile web experience more complicated.
Mobile redirects are disruptive to a smooth experience
Redirects can also be the result of a hack attack, leading users to open spammy sites. The company adds that webmasters can easily check if they’ve been the victims of such an attack by:
- Checking if they are redirected when they access their site from various devices and browsers.
- Paying attention to user complaints.
- Monitoring unusual mobile user activity, such as very short amounts of time being spent on their site.
In its blog post, Google writes:
“It’s a violation of the Google Webmaster Guidelines to redirect a user to a page with the intent of displaying content other than what was made available to the search engine crawler. To ensure quality search results for our users, the Google Search Quality team can take action on such sites, including removal of URLs from our index. When we take manual action, we send a message to the site owner via Search Console. Therefore, make sure you’ve set up a Search Console account.”
The company adds that website owners should opt for advertisers with transparent user traffic handling. It recommends checking the Trustworthy Accountability Group’s (Interactive Advertising Bureau) Inventory Quality Guidelines.
Avoiding sneaky mobile redirects not only benefits the end user, but also brands and businesses in building trusted, quality relationships with their customers.