Google On Designing Mobile Friendly Websites

Pierre Far from Google wrote a blog post on how to design mobile friendly websites while considering Google’s webmaster guidelines and best practices.

I’ve pulled out the key points from this post in bullet format:

  • Google differentiates between traditional mobile phones and smartphones.
  • Google has two bots: Googlebot and Googlebot-Mobile. Googlebot crawls desktop-browser type of webpages and content embedded in them and Googlebot-Mobile crawls mobile content.
  • Currently only traditional phones are supported with special useragent strings within Googlebot-Mobile, not smartphones (this may change)
  • Google said they “expect smartphones to handle desktop experience content so there is no real need for mobile-specific effort from webmasters.
  • It does not mean you can’t serve a special style sheet to smartphones, Google said, “the decision to do so should be based on how you can best serve your users.”
  • URL structure: For Googlebot and Googlebot-Mobile, it does not matter what the URL structure is as long as it returns exactly what a user sees too.
  • Using the same URL “is not considered cloaking by Google.”
  • Mobile sitemaps: you should include only mobile content URLs in Mobile Sitemaps, even if these URLs also return non-mobile content when accessed by a non-mobile User-agent.

This blog post was in response to a question I had in regards to a video Matt published, which is below. But make sure to understand that you do not need to use a mobile specific URL, you can serve up mobile content on the same URLs you serve up to desktop users. In addition, it is important to note that smartphones like iPhones and Android phones are not necessarily and currently considered “mobile” devices to Google or Googlebot-Mobile.

Related Stories:

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Google: Mobile | Google: SEO | Google: Web Search | How To: Mobile Marketing | How To: SEO | SEO: Cloaking & Doorway Pages | SEO: Duplicate Content | SEO: Mobile Search | SEO: Redirects & Moving Sites | Top News


About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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  • CPC_Andrew

    Thanks for the info Barry. Mobile is exploding. I think a big question a lot of retailers have is “Should I invest in a mobile site?”

  • Extima Web Design

    Helpful article. Would you recommend a whole mobile site overhaul, developing an app, or both?

  • Michael Martin


    You are absolutely right as the best way to render mobile content is under the same URL but using user agent detection to render a mobile CSS with a mobile DocType declaration…similar to how the WP-Touch plugin renders mobile content for WordPress sites.

    John Mueller at Google affirmed that with me last year similar to what Pierre wrote –

  • Barry Schwartz

    Extima, depends on your content.

  • Peter Cranstone

    RE: Google said they “expect smartphones to handle desktop experience content so there is no real need for mobile-specific effort from webmasters.

    Really… How about some performance metrics. Click on the link below. This is British Airways desktop web site on Android. Check out the number of requests, the time to download and the size of the web site. Also pay close attention to the doubleclick ad timings.

    link to mobile performance report:

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