Matt Cutts on How to Tell Google about the Mobile Version of Your Website

The real intention behind having two different versions for your website (desktop and mobile) is to drive traffic from customers who access content via their mobile phones. But how can you ensure that mobile phone users find the mobile version of your site? You must inform the search engine that you have a mobile version. In a recent webmaster video Matt Cutts recommends effective ways of doing this while answering the question “Is there a way to tell Google there is a mobile version of a page, so it can show the alternate page in mobile search results? Or similarly, that a page is responsive and the same URL works on mobile?” The solutions range from responsive website design to the utilization of Smartphone agents.

Speaking exclusively with regard to Smartphones, Cutts mainly discusses the following three methods to let Google know there is a mobile version of your website.

  • Using a Responsive Design – The responsive design will serve the same site to both mobile users and desktop users while JavaScript and CSS leverage the site to adjust with the screen resolution. Cutts advises not to block JavaScript and CSS if you are using this method. Google can determine that a site is responsive only if it gets the JavaScript and CSS code. This is the configuration recommended by Google for building Smartphone optimized websites.

Responsive Design

  • Having Separate Versions for the Same Site – This method involves developing different sites for mobile and desktop users with two different URLs and placing bidirectional links on both versions. Put a rel=”alternate” on the desktop site pointing to the mobile version and a rel=”canonical” on the mobile site pointing to the desktop version. With these links, Googlebot can find the mobile version even if it has a separate URL, and direct the users to the correct version.
  • Redirecting Smartphone Agents – The other effective method suggested is to redirect Smartphone agents from the desktop version to the mobile version. When Googlebot crawls a website with Googlebot Mobile and gets redirected, it will interpret there is a mobile version. If you are trying this method, make sure that you are not blocking Googlebot Mobile or Googlebot and taking the correct users to the correct URLs.

This revelation is quite useful for mobile marketers who are exploring opportunities to drive the attention of mobile users. According to the ‘2014 Marketing Trends Survey‘ by StrongView, cross-channel marketing software provider, mobile marketing comes in the list of areas for increased spending in 2014. However, the job of mobile marketers does not end with letting Google know about the mobile version. They should take efforts to make the site attractive for mobile users, increase the page loading speed (since mobile users don’t want to spend much time searching) and improve connectivity. By partnering with a professional website design company, businesses can save the time and efforts needed to improve the visibility of their mobile websites.

About Rajeev Rajagopal

Rajeev Rajagopal

Rajeev Rajagopal is the Vice President of Managed Outsource Solutions, a leading BPO company in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Prior to joining MOS, he worked as a physical therapist. Having worked in several rehabilitation clinics, Rajeev has learned the importance of good medical records for medical billing and liability issues and the importance of the good back and front office support. He has extensive knowledge in SEO, medical billing and coding, and medical transcription. He has worked with a number of large organizations to effectively manage and provide outsourcing solutions.