Designing and maintaining a mobile optimized or dedicated site is crucial to converting potential customers, but it can be hard work. If you’re struggling to keep your mobile site in tip top shape, you’re not alone: according to a recent study by Pure Oxygen Labs revealed that out of the 100 top U.S. retailers online, 97% with mobile website were missing the redirect header values required by Google. Additionally, 22% of brands studied have desktop URLs that redirect mobile users to error pages (either the 404 “page not found” error or one of the 500 series of internal server errors), and 67% of the surveyed brands had multiple errors and irrelevant redirects across their sampled URLs. What does all of this mean? Even the big brands are struggling with operating a mobile website, and as such, are missing out on opportunities to engage and convert a growing segment of visitors – mobile users.
These errors make it difficult or impossible for mobile users to visit a webpage, limiting or locking out potential leads and customers. Just as bad as that, these problems make brands engage inadvertently in spammy techniques, which could result in a punishment from Google and other search engines in terms of rankings. An example cited within the Pure Oxygen Labs study outlines how this happens:
“The most common server-side methods of redirecting smartphones to mobile URLs closely resemble an old-school SEO spam tactic called bait-and-switch redirects¸ in which optimized content is served to spider user-agents (like Googlebot) while un-optimized content is served to other user-agents (like humans). Google requires webmasters to tag or disclose when content at a URL (such as “www.domain.com/product”) varies by user-agent. This is intended to help avoid inadvertent downgrades by spam-checking algorithms.”
How can brands clean up their mobile presence and avoid spamming potential leads? The study offered a few tips:
- Fully audit your most important category, subcategory, and product pages to make sure that the mobile code is implemented properly, the content appears as it should on mobile, and that all conversion paths on these pages work for mobile. If there are problems that need to be corrected, these are the places where you want to address them first.
- Optimize both the device-detection code used by the server to target certain smartphones, and the pattern-matching code that populates the server’s response headers with the mobile page location. Also optimize the type of redirect status code, and the “vary” tag values. If you have desktop URLs that redirect smartphones, make sure those URLs are mapped to relevant mobile pages. If a correlating mobile page does not exist, mobile users should be directed to the desktop version.
- Proactively monitor key pages for mobile redirect errors and irrelevant results so you can respond before any downgrades occur in search engines. There are technology options that can automate this process.
The technical aspects of running a mobile webpage can difficult to understand and to implement. If you need help getting yours in top condition, call us; our development team has experience building and maintaining even the most complex mobile sites.