• Runner2009

    I was told by Google’s John Mueller on Google+ that Google doesn’t care what type of URLs it crawls – mobile or responsive. As for the duplicate content issue he stated canonical the main site not the mobile version

  • http://www.brysonmeunier.com/ Bryson Meunier

    Thanks, Runner2009. If John Mueller told you to add canonical tags to the desktop site rather than the mobile site that would be against Google’s official guidelines for smartphone content. Was it before their official announcement on June 6, 2012? As some of what Google employees had said previously should be replaced by this new directive.

    If you follow the link to the guidelines that I included you can see that Google officially recommends adding canonical tags to the mobile site: 
    “To help our algorithms understand this configuration on your site, we recommend using the following annotations:On the desktop page, add a special link rel=”alternate” tag pointing to the corresponding mobile URL. This helps Googlebot discover the location of your site’s mobile pages.
    On the mobile page, add a link rel=”canonical” tag pointing to the corresponding desktop URL.”

    Totally agree with John about Google being able to crawl both responsive and mobile URLs. They said at SMX Advanced that they prefer responsive web design if it makes sense for the user, but that they can handle three types of mobile configurations, including mobile URLs and responsive pages. My point was that too many people seemed to focus on the responsive preference while ignoring the announcement about mobile URLs.Full details are here if you haven’t read them yet: https://developers.google.com/webmasters/smartphone-sites/details

  • http://www.facebook.com/netmeg Meg Geddes

    I am heavy into mobile; my seasonal sites are fully 50% or more mobile traffic now. We ended up with a hybrid of responsive design and a stripped down smartphone version, partly because of different user intent (these are event sites) and partly because we’re serving ads, and advertising (particularly Google advertising) hasn’t caught up to responsive design yet.  The ad thing does throw another monkey wrench into the whole responsive design question, and nobody seems to be talking about that.  

  • http://twitter.com/garethjenkinsit Gareth Jenkins

    Hi Bryson, great article!  Have you yet had any confirmation as to whether tying to “roughly equivalent” pages using the rel=canonical and rel=alternate approaches is actually a wise move?  Our client sites feature separate mobile and desktop pages that while they have some similar use and aim, will vary quite a lot in actual content.  I too am wary of tying these closely together if there’s a chance of affecting the ranking of the main desktop pages as a result.

  • http://www.brysonmeunier.com/ Bryson Meunier

    Thanks, Gareth! I haven’t tested this yet, no. However, I do have confirmation from Pierre Far of Google on several occasions that canonical tags are acceptable for equivalent pages, and not just exact duplicates when it comes to mobile. We’ll be trying it out in the next couple weeks and I will keep everyone posted on the results in a future column. Thanks for the comment!