Google Adds Faulty Mobile Redirect Warning: Implications & Best Practices for Creating Engaging Mobile Search Experiences

Weekly Digital Digest
June 20, 2014
Google Study: Building Brand Awareness through Paid Search Ads
June 25, 2014

Google Adds Faulty Mobile Redirect Warning: Implications & Best Practices for Creating Engaging Mobile Search Experiences


With rising mobile usage, faulty redirects are becoming more prominent, and they’re creating poor mobile user experiences. In June 2013, we wrote about Google’s initial announcement to assess websites’ mobile experiences in determination of their search rankings. Now, Google has announced a new update for mobile users that will impact both brands and searchers: A warning will pop up when mobile users see mobile search results that direct to sites with faulty or frequent redirects. Users will be presented with a new “Try anyway” link to continue to brands’ faulty sites. Sites with poor mobile redirects are thus penalized (users need to make an additional click), motivating the sites to provide better mobile experiences. A faulty redirect works as follows:

  1. Mobile user searches for “brand Y shoes”
  2. A common faulty mobile redirect would send the user to m.brandY.com, or the brand homepage URL, instead of a shoe-specific URL

IMPLICATION & RECOMMENDATIONS for BRANDS Implications

  1. Traffic volume decreases due to users being unable to click the listing title. Searchers will move on to the next listing.
  2. Bounce rates will increase significantly. Searchers who do click the “Try Anyway” link will arrive at an irrelevant landing page, likely the homepage. This, in turn, will drive searchers away from the site back to the search engine or another website.

Recommendations

  1. To avoid frustrating users (and having Google display the “Try anyway” link), the listing should direct users to a mobile brand page (redirected, microsite or responsive version) about shoes, ex: www.brandY.com/shoes. A correct mobile redirect could send users to m.brandY.com/shoes.
  2. Brands who use Google’s webmaster tools will be notified by Google of irrelevant redirects it finds. While you will receive notifications of faulty redirects, we recommend taking a proactive approach by setting up your server to redirect smartphone users to the corresponding URL on the mobile site.
  3. Plan to avoid the need for redirection by letting search engines crawl and index the mobile website. Use rel=”alternate” or “switchboard tagging” so as to define the duplicative relationship between the mobile and desktop versions—and consolidate link equity. For example, this is how the tagging would appear on this mobile/desktop URL example in the <head> of the webpages:
    1. Desktop Page: <link rel=”alternate” href=”http://m.brandY.com/shoes” >
    2. Mobile Page: <link rel=”canonical” alternate” href=”http://brandY.com/shoes” >

Although this seems simple in theory, it’s often difficult to execute in practice, especially for brands who may have hundreds/thousands of SKUs, and brands who have not yet focused on optimizing their mobile experiences. All brands should consider mobile landing page optimization and experience strategies, including: Mobility Experience Optimization Audit

  • Identify pain points participants face in engaging with your site, driving high bounce rates and low conversion rates
  • Assess how your brand drives visibility and awareness among its most valued participants
  • Discover how your participants are using your mobile site/app to supplement their interactions with other extensions of your brand, such as your retail presence

Mobile Landing Page or Microsite Development

  • Use responsive/adaptive design to adjust experiences for smaller screens with limited functionality–conversion goals may change as well
  • Remember that mobile download speeds can be much slower if not connected to WiFi, meaning that page weight should be a top optimization priority

Performance Content Development

  • Create content catered to drive high engagement
  • Focus on content quality; Google will reward quality, and so will your users

For more information on Optimizing Your Mobile Site in Search, please contact your Performics Account Team today


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