Does Your Mobile Site Pass Google’s New Mobile Search Test?

Is your website truly optimized for mobile search? You may think your website is mobile-friendly, but if your mobile strategy relies on sending mobile search traffic to a mobile-optimized homepage instead of the indexed page that shows up in the consumer’s search for their specific term or query, a new Google update means it’s time to rethink that strategy.

Here’s what Google is doing and how you can make sure you’re sending searchers to the right page – and not losing mobile traffic as a result of the change.

Google’s New Mobile Search Results Alert to Content Redirects

Now that mobile has become such a huge player in local search, Google says that more and more businesses are simply directing mobile search traffic to a mobile home page rather than to the specific indexed page that a searcher really wants to see when they find your site in the search results. This results in a poor user experience for searchers. So Google has changed its mobile search results to  now alert smartphone users if they are about to click a link that may redirect them to a homepage rather than the page they’re actually looking for. The searcher can select either visit the page anyway, or they may instead choose to click on a search result that doesn’t provide this poor user experience and instead offers mobile-optimized content relevant to their search.

Referring to these mobile homepage links as “faulty redirects,” Google hopes this new notification system will help smartphone users find the mobile pages that are most relevant to their searches. What does this mean to you? If your site uses this approach to mobile search, you will likely see a decrease in your website’s visibility in search results and a drop in mobile traffic over time as users find and visit other sites.

Send Mobile Traffic to the Right Page & Avoid Alerts

So, what do you need to do about this warning in Google search results? Google suggests first checking out how your own site behaves in mobile search to see what consumers see. If it’s redirecting to your homepage when you find a piece of indexed content via search, you’ll need to set up your site so that it takes smartphone users to the correct page on your mobile site that they clicked on.

And if you don’t have a mobile version of the page a searcher is looking for? According to Google, it’s best to take users to the desktop version of that page rather than to the mobile homepage, since it’s better for both SEO and user experience to take searchers to the page they clicked on rather than to an irrelevant page just because it’s mobile-optimized. But really, it’s better to have a responsive or fully mobile-optimized website to ensure you’re giving searchers the experience they want.

This mobile search notification further emphasizes the need for businesses to make sure all their website pages, not just their homepage, are optimized for mobile viewing. A responsive web design is the best way to ensure users view the same content from any mobile device, including tablets and smartphones, that they would see on your full website.

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Tamara Weintraub

Tamara is a content marketing manager at ReachLocal with over 7 years experience in B2B marketing and has a nerd-level affinity for software and technology. She specializes in helping local businesses succeed online, writing and learning about Google, search advertising, SEO, and social media marketing. When she's not writing about online marketing, you can find her watching cult TV and hanging out with her Doberman.

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