With the explosion of mobile users and projected growth showing staggering numbers, it's a great time for Google to clear the air on mobile sites.
A new post published on Google's Webmaster Central Blog clarifies several common mobile site issues and focuses on Google-bot mobile interacting with a users site.
Mobile sites are frequently set up as a supplemental site on a different domain. A mobile user is redirected to the separate mobile site once they type in the domain. Another option, a separate style sheet assigned when a mobile user accesses the site. Both methods rely on the user agent to proceed accordingly.
Websites with content dedicated for mobile:
1. Does it matter if the different versions of content is served from the same URL?
No. As long as the bot's see the same content as users and the user-agent's are properly detected, it is alright.
2. If I use the same URL for different versions of content does that count as cloaking?
No, "this is not considered to be cloaking," says Google.
3. Do I have to set the user-agent, or will Google do that for me?
If you have a mobile-friendly version of your site, then you will have to not only implement proper user-agent detection, but tell Google which version of the site is served to the respective http user agent and a version for anything not properly detected.
"For now, we expect smart phones to handle desktop experience content so there is no real need for mobile-specific effort from webmasters. However, for many websites it may still make sense for the content to be formatted differently for smart phones, and the decision to do so should be based on how you can best serve your users."
Not surprising, as a 3-inch screen can make navigation a bear! Dedicated mobile content is something many website owners are thinking about, or, they have already developed a site specifically for it.
The next logical question is, "Do I need to dedicate a subdomain or separate domain for the mobile version?" There are many options, different smartphone capabilities and limitations, site-specific features, and user experience options to consider before jumping in full force.
Looking for more info? Google has a Mobile Sites section in the resource center with much more information on mobile site development, best practices, sitemaps, and compatibility.
Upcoming Webinar: PPC Pause and Reflections for 2013
Thursday, December 12 - 2013 was a major turning point in search advertising. With Google's Enhanced Campaigns and Bing's innovative Smart Search capabilities in Windows 8.1, now is a great time to pause, reflect, and plan for the new year. Webinar attendance is free. Sign up today!