Google has warned that it will now issue manual penalties against webmasters who use sneaky mobile-based redirects.
Google confirmed its stance on sneaky redirects back in 2014, with updated guidelines to ensure webmasters were aware of exactly what was seen as bad practice. The guidelines outlined that where mobile site detection occurs and a redirect is used to guide users to content that is different to the desktop page this will be regarded as spam.
It has now been announced that where sneaky redirects are implemented, a manual action will be brought against the website.
The Google Search Quality Team stated:
Redirecting mobile users to improve their mobile experience (like redirecting mobile users from example.com/url1 to m.example.com/url1) is often beneficial to them. But redirecting mobile users sneakily to a different content is bad for user experience and is against Google’s webmaster guidelines.
What if These Sneaky Redirects are Unintentional?
Google has shown understanding that sneaky redirects may sometimes be implemented by third parties, without the knowledge or consent of the webmaster. Where mobile redirects are implemented by hackers or aggressive ad campaigns, Google has given webmasters advice on how to detect this before any manual action takes place against the site.
In order to protect your site from redirecting hackers, Google suggests that webmasters regularly check whether any redirects occur when navigating to your site from your smartphone. Google also suggests that webmasters should take note if users are submitting complaints about your site, especially if they are reporting difficulties finding the content they’re looking for. It is also advised that webmasters should regularly monitor their site’s analytics for behaviour changes among their users.