Google Mobile Redirect issues on Adwords
Google appear to have a huge loophole in their PPC policy regarding ‘bridge pages’ with regards to mobile sites. A current problem with Google’s policy is the difference between automatic redirects from desktop optimised sites to mobile optimised versions, which enhances the mobile user experience when using and viewing the web on a mobile device. Looking at this holistically, this makes complete sense, however Google’s policy sees things differently.
Let’s look at this practically. If you own a website with both desktop and mobile versions, you are correct in having automatic redirects taking your user or visitor to the most relevant version. So, if a visitor clicks your desktop URL on their mobile handset, they are automatically redirected to the mobile version. If a visitor clicks on a mobile URL on their desktop computer, they are automatically redirected to the desktop version. You with me so far? This all makes sense, right? Wrong.
When Google review Mobile PPC accounts, especially the mobile optimised URLs and where visitors land – the problem seems to be that they are testing these URLs on a desktop computer. With this, using the example above, during their testing processes they are quite rightly redirected to the desktop version of the site. Quite mind boggling is that in the ‘real world’, these mobile adverts would never appear in desktop PPC results, which completely nullifies any testing Google appear to be carrying out via desktop.
A lot of companies and individuals took the opportunity to register .mobi TLDs for their mobile optimised sites, which can appear to be completely different domains. To make things clear, the desktop URL will be www.example.com, and the mobile URL as www.example.mobi. If you are a company that offers both a desktop and mobile service (let’s in this case say, a desktop web-based entertainment product, and another mobile web-based entertainment product) when Google tests the Mobile PPC landing URLs as above the redirect takes them to the desktop product; Google essentially identify this as a completely different product – as your desktop landing page will mostly push users to use the desktop version – thus regarding the desktop landing page as a ‘bridging page’.
What are the consequences? Google class this as a violation of their Adwords policy, and ban your account. Madness! However, there is a remedy to get around this. It isn’t the most ideal situation, and requires more work from development to get this working.
To put it simply, your mobile enhanced site has to have a page/s (which in the case of PPC, will be the landing page/s for your adverts) that don’t have an automatic redirect. To the rest of the site, you apply the redirect so that the majority of users clicking mobile URLs on their desktop still get pointed towards the more relevant desktop page. An easier way to combat this issue is to have the mobile enhanced site as a subdomain in the same TLD as your desktop version, for example m.example.com.
In summary, as the mobile industry is constantly changing, the use of mobile optimised sites and landing pages through PPC networks, in particular Google’s own Adwords network has to be re-examined to incorporate this in future policy reviews.