m.Hell – Google Wants You to Be More Mobile-Friendly

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One of my pet peeves as a mobile device user of brand websites is the automatic re-direct to their m.brand.com website.  Part of this is my luddite-like stubbornness to not embrace this new paradigm.  A bigger problem is the lack of responsive design in those websites.  If you haven’t thought the expense of this was justified before, Google has now made that calculation moot.

In June, on their Webmaster Central Blog, Google announced that they would change how their search rankings would take into account what they called ‘faulty redirects.’  These redirects disrupt your user’s workflow.  It may even lead them to go somewhere else.  If you have a captive audience where they have no choice but to use it, you probably have an angry user.  I am thinking of a few companies right now, but I will not mention them, Time Warner Cable.

The reality is that this type of faulty re-directs is easy to deal with.  If you haven’t had the time to develop a smart-phone ready page of content that has feature-parity, simply re-direct them to desktop content.  I would much rather manipulate a non-mobile site on my mobile device than be in forced m.hell.

Google also listed a host of what they call smartphone-only errors.  You should really review these.  Chances are that you are doing one or more of these things.  A recent review by Pure Oxygen Labs discussed in a recent Online Media Daily article, shows that only 6 of Fortune 100 companies comply with their mobile sites.  While 1/3 do serve some sort of deep mobile content, most of those do not take into account the new search rankings algorithm.

One thing to note from the blog that you really do need to consider is your use of content not displayable on mobile.   Dropping Flash on mobile, for example, is something that Steve Jobs of Apple championed in April 2010Adobe finally waved the white flag a few years ago.  So why do you as a provider of content on mobile devices think that you can still serve Flash to those users.  Video is also a bone of contention for Google, your users and now your search rankings.

It might be time to look at your own mobile efforts and these changes.  You have a few more months, possibly, before these changes take full effect, according to Brian Kalis, CEO of Pure Oxygen Labs.

If you have neglected your mobile users up until now because it wasn’t worth it, Google just made it worth your while.  Don’t be the frog in the slowly boiling pot of water.

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