Original Poster
Google user

Search results on mobile optimized sites

I've read the FAQs and searched the help center. 

Hey everyone, after going through this document http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com.es/2012/06/recommendations-for-building-smartphone.html i still have some doubts.

Here at my company we use JS to "redirect" the user from the desktop version of our clients website to our mobile optimized version. 
I'm quoting "redirect" because even though the content is later retrieved exclusively from our servers the content is still being served under the clients domain. As an example, you can look at dailycaller.com, the tablet and smartphone version are served from my company servers and the URL is always dailycaller.com/....

I was wondering what kind of impact that has on our clients Google search results. Right now we are blocking the google bot on our servers, for historic reasons, and we are studying the impact of allowing google to also crawl our servers. 

Thanks in advance

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Hello Pedro,

Sorry, it's not completely clear to me what you're asking. Are you saying does it matter that the content appears to come from the client server but is actually being served from your own servers, which are blocked to Googlebot? I don't see why this should have any effect. It's common for web pages to pull in content from all sorts of servers: I've seen (bad!) examples recently where pages are built pulling in code from about 50 different servers - mainly using plugins from Facebook, Disqus, etc etc etc.

However, if Google crawls both servers and sees identical content in two places, it's unlikely to index/rank both. It would be duplicate content - so one version would get hidden and not necessarily the version you want hidden. Or you could get a mixture, where some of the content is indexed from the client site and some from your own site.

Hope that answers. If you can be a bit more specific with the question, we might be able to help further? :)
Pedro Garcia Mota
Pedro Garcia Mota
Hi ets, thanks for the answer and sorry about not being clear with the question but it's hard for me to explain the problem.

If i understand it right, mobile optimized websites are better ranked on search results on mobile devices, so the issue is: we want our clients to be ranked high on google search results on mobile devices by indexing/ranking our version of the website that is mobile optimized. 

How to do that given that the content is duplicated? How will the crawler know that it's our version that is supposed to be indexed/ranked ?

Thanks for the help!

Okay, I think I understand :) Unfortunately, because of the way you're redirecting, I can't look at your site on a desktop (spoofing a mobile) to see exactly how it works.

But can we back up a bit: have you checked out the Google Mobile Guidelines for separate mobile websites:

If you set it up as documented there, with canonical/alternate annotation, the desktop site (your clients) will be indexed in the desktop results, the mobile site (from your server) should be indexed in the mobile results - so hopefully that will solve the issue?
Pedro Garcia Mota
Pedro Garcia Mota
Yes, sorry about not mentioning that i've read the guidelines.

The thing is that the url is usually the same. So the canonical/alternate annotation it's not a solution for us. And now that i think about it, maybe i wasn't completely clear when i said that the content is the same. Of course the articles from the desktop version will be on our version, but the HTML is completely different so maybe the crawler would not index the content as duplicated, not sure about that.

And about you not being able to look at the site, we only support webkit base browsers. So you can use Chrome for example and emulate and iPad and the get into dailycaller.com and the 
redirection will be made.

Thanks for answering again ets!

Hi Pedro

I'd definitely check out the recommendations link that ets provided, it has more information about the various setups that Google supports for mobile-friendly websites. I would strongly recommend not blocking the mobile version (or the JavaScript files that lead to it) with the robots.txt (or otherwise blocking them from Googlebot): if Google can't recognize that there is a mobile-friendly version available, it won't be able to treat the site appropriately when smartphone users search. Just blocking the mobile version (and/or the JavaScript files leading there) will generally make it much harder for us to recognize your site's content properly. 

You don't have to worry about duplicate content -- definitely not when it comes to mobile versions when they're annotated appropriately. In your case, you're using the same URLs anyway, so that wouldn't be an issue anyway. Serving different HTML for smartphone users is fine (we call it "dynamic serving" in our docs). Our main recommendation in this case is to use the "Vary" HTTP header so that the pages don't get cached in one or the other format (so that desktop users accidentally end up with the smartphone version, or vice-versa). 

Hope this helps!
Pedro Garcia Mota
Pedro Garcia Mota
Hi John, thanks for the answer it definitely helped understand better the documentation.

About the "Vary" HTTP header, since we have control only over the mobile version, adding the "Vary" HTTP header on our servers would be enough? Or we would have to ask all of all clients to do the same?


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