Google Informs Webmasters of Faulty Redirects for Mobile Users

It’s no secret Google is pushing for sites to be more mobile-friendly. And that doesn’t always mean "just go mobile." There are technical considerations when implementing mobile solutions that can mean the difference between merely being accessibile and creating great experiences.

Faulty redirects are one of the common mistakes site owners make when implementing mobile. This is what happens, for example, when a desktop site redirects smartphone users to the mobile site’s home page, no matter what URL within the site they are trying to access.

Google warns against this, and in June, it announced it would start sending messages to mobile users for English search results in the U.S. when faulty redirects were detected to ask users if they really want to continue to the site. 

search-result-faulty-redirect

You can guess what might happen next: It’s likely in some cases the user would have bounced anyway, but with this new notification system, those sites may not even see visits.

Google wants webmasters to be proactive in the matter, and, as a result, they will receive notifications, too. From Google's announcement:

Check out Webmaster Tools — we’ll send you a message if we detect that any of your site’s pages are redirecting smartphone users to the homepage. We’ll also show you any faulty redirects we detect in the Smartphone Crawl Errors section of Webmaster Tools.

Earlier this week, Marie Haynes of HIS Web Marketing pointed out that those faulty redirect notifications had started going out. 

Haynes said it didn’t seem like there was a notice in Google Webmaster Tools, but she then spotted it the following day:

smartphone-errors-gwt

As a reminder, there are several ways to access recommendations from Google on how to remedy bad mobile experiences. In the post on faulty redirects, Google gives the following suggestions for a plan of attack:

  • Use the example URLs we provide in Webmaster Tools as a starting point to debug exactly where the problem is with your server configuration. 
  • Set up your server so that it redirects smartphone users to the equivalent URL on your smartphone site. 
  • If a page on your site doesn’t have a smartphone equivalent, keep users on the desktop page, rather than redirecting them to the smartphone site’s homepage. Doing nothing is better than doing something wrong in this case. 
  • Try using responsive Web design, which serves the same content for desktop and smartphone users.

About the author

Jessica Lee is a marketer specializing in web content strategy and B2B/B2C writing. Since 2005, Jessica has been in the business of content and communications, with the past several years focused on the web marketing space.

Prior to launching her consulting business, bizbuzzcontent, Jessica was responsible for content strategy, development and marketing for Bruce Clay Inc. – a global SEO firm, where she served small businesses and Fortune 500 clients. Jessica's background also includes positions in traditional marketing, communications, broadcasting and publishing.

Jessica has a bachelor's in communications and public relations from San Diego State University. She also contributed to the book “Search Engine Optimization All-in-One For Dummies” 2nd edition.