Important Google Mobile Search Results Changes for Separate Mobile Sites

DISCLAIMER: If you have already created a User Friendly, Google Speed Tested, RESPONSIVE Web site for your business, THIS ARTICLE DOES NOT APPLY TO YOUR Mobile Presence. See recommendation #1 below.

Congratulations, you are following Google’s Recommended Configuration!

Google states: Responsive is their Recommended Configuration for Mobile

This article addresses those who have Mobile Sites that fall under recommendation #3 above, A SEPARATE MOBILE SITE, which is still currently supported by Google as an acceptable Mobile Site format.

In specific, this article will address separate mobile sites that have been set up as m.yourwebsiteaddress.com, mobile.yourwebsiteaddress.com, etc.


As of December 31, 2013, Google has made a change to Search Queries in Webmaster Tools. As of this date, Google will be separating out M. and Mobile. Queries. As a result of this change, when a surfer does a Google Mobile Search on their smartphone, they will see your mobile site URL in the search results instead of your www.yourwebsiteaddress.com address.*

Example of Google Moble Search Results showing M. Seperate Site URLs

Before this change, mobile search results displayed the desktop URL and when the surfer clicked on the search result, they were automatically directed to the corresponding m. or mobile. version of the URL. This change now saves the user from the latency of a server-side redirect to allow them to get to the mobile site. IE: Google is making your separate mobile site load faster.

Looking into Google’s Crystal Ball…

I find it very interesting that Google is taking steps to reduce latency load time on a separate mobile site, while at the same time, they are providing your Webmaster additional tools to test the speed of all Mobile sites they manage via the ever improving Google Insights Tool. I think it’s a safe bet to read into such changes that Google want’s your Mobile Site to be FAST and User Friendly. Page Speed: What is Acceptable?If you have a Mobile Site, and at this point there is NO Question that you NEED one, we highly recommend you take the time to test it for Usability and Speed. If your mobile or desktop site scores poorly, request that your Webmaster make the needed changes to make it faster and improve mobile usability, or instead, you may want to consider moving to a Responsive Web site Design (RWD). If Google is taking steps themselves on separate mobile sites to reduce latency, I think we should all be following their lead with the mobile code that is in your Webmaster’s control.

* Smartphone surfers will see m.yourwebaddress.com or mobile.yourwebaddress.com results on their mobile device ONLY IF your Webmaster has set up your separate Mobile site correctly following Google’s advice on Building Smartphone-Optimized Websites

  • On the desktop page, add a special link rel=”alternate” tag pointing to the corresponding mobile URL.
  • On the mobile page, add a link rel=”canonical” tag pointing to the corresponding desktop URL.
  • Use the HTTP Vary: User-Agent header if your servers automatically redirect users based on their user agent/device.

Finally, it is recommended that your webmaster verify ownership of both the desktop (www) and mobile (m.) sites in Webmaster Tools for improved communication and troubleshooting information specific to each site.

Wrap Up: If you have a Responsive Web site Design that meets Google’s Speed and Usability testing guidelines, you are as current and up-to-date as Google has stated it wants you to be based on their current standards.  If you have a separate Mobile Site, take the steps above to reduce latent load time, test your site for usability and speed, and then consider moving to a Responsive Design the next time you build a new Web site for your business.

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