• http://www.fantasysp.com Brant

    Excellent post Cindy. I was unaware of those canonical tags for mobile and desktop.

  • Colin Guidi

    Holy moly, great post, the mobile best practices continue to evolve and become more confusing.

    Here’s what I had understood before your article as options for mobile:
    Responsive Web Design / RESS
    Dynamic Serving
    and now after your post we also have Selective Serving?

    Oh what to do, what to do. I know, I’ll just wait for Google’s 6th idea on mobile best practices!

  • cboulanger

    Great post. Vary headers & RESS (horrible acronym) are both pains to explain and manage with enterprise teams. Google keeps making mobile adoption harder with its unclear explanations.

    Thanks for trying to make sense of this.

  • http://www.silverdisc.co.uk/ Alan Perkins

    Good post except for this:

    > Workaround 3: Skip the Vary header altogether

    This is not a workaround – don’t do this! Otherwise you will probably find that only one version of your content – be it the desktop version or the mobile version – is served to all platforms from the CDN. And if your content isn’t responsive but really does vary from device to device, this isn’t what you want. To be fair to Google, this is why they recommend you use the Vary header.

    Allow me to suggest an alternative workaround: create a responsive site that is fast on mobile connections (and therefore obviously on desktop connections too). Then use AJAX to provide a richer desktop experience on top of each responsive page load, where necessary.

  • Cindy Krum

    LOL – Ya! It is tough to know what to do!

  • Cindy Krum

    Thanks! I have asked some Google industry representatives out-right for more clear instructions – I was hoping for something better than the most recent update!

  • Cindy Krum

    Hi Alan- The recommendation was to use mobile-specific pages, which don’t need the varies header. Most CDN’s already have systems in-place to handle mobile redirects from a desktop page to a mobile page on an ‘m.’.

  • http://www.silverdisc.co.uk/ Alan Perkins

    > The recommendation was to use mobile-specific pages, which don’t need the varies header.

    Thanks for clarifying, Cindy.

  • Colin Guidi

    Indeed, but if you utilize Ajax for a richer desktop you’ll still need to implement a crawlable solution for that. Whether its progressive enhancement/graceful degradation, utilizing a headless browser, etc, it still asynchronously will call from an external JavaScript library. You’ll need to find a crawlable solution for that content being called in via JavaScript.

  • http://www.silverdisc.co.uk/ Alan Perkins

    Possibly. It depends what the extra content is. For example, if it was video or images then sitemaps might be the way to go.

  • fallacycomp

    Google needs to refer to established content negotiation terminology on W3C before creating more junk acronyms and confusing people further. http://www.w3.org/Protocols/rfc2616/rfc2616-sec12.html

  • Josh Bledsoe

    Hmm…. It looks like the tag could be the answer to getting responsive design right. http://www.html5rocks.com/en/tutorials/webcomponents/template/

  • Colin Guidi

    That’s the golden ticket. Just what exactly is the Ajax calling in? That’s what the site owner will need to figure out. If it’s content that should be crawled, it’ll need a solution :)

  • Colin Guidi

    Need to move to HTML5 before using it though?

  • George

    This was a great post shared by our SEO inhouse expert. Very nice! Thank you for this.

  • Josh Bledsoe

    Just waiting on the browsers to come to the party. Chrome Version 27.0.1453.110 m is currently accepting the template tag, but it’s still no bueno for IE and Firefox. It would be tempting to maybe build up a responsive page using this since there is one browser with which to test it with though…

  • Colin Guidi

    Agreed, could be cool. Especially seeing how Chrome is making a push as a top browser globally, just need everyone to hop on the 27.0.1453.110 m bandwagon.

  • MuSTa1ne

    I was reading the google documentation and the Vary header is recommended when you are doing a redirection using the User-Agent but with responsive design you are using the same URI.

    Google has the GoogleBot Mobile, so it now which version is Desktop and which is Mobile and about the content should be different because are for different purposes and Google don’t say that should be similar or different just are different because are for different versions.

    I understood in the wrong way?

  • Gareth McConnell

    Outstanding article. Thank you for sharing the knowledge

  • Cindy Krum

    Hey Gareth – thanks! Glad you liked it! :)

  • Cindy Krum

    Some pages serve different content to different devices within the Responsive Design pages. If that is the case, then you still should have the ‘vary’ header in place. If the CDN works with it in place, I think any page that has a mobile redirect or can be viewed on mobile should be sending the ‘vary: user-agent’ header as a recognizable mobile signal for Google.

    Google says: “If your site serves content or redirects users depending on the user-agent, i.e. the response varies, we strongly recommend that your server also send the Vary HTTP header on URLs that serve automatic redirects. This helps with ISP caching and is another signal for Googlebot and our algorithms to discover and understand your website’s configuration.”

  • http://makethemclick.com.au/library Mark @ Make Them Click

    Ugh My Brain hurts (lol). Great post but unfortunately raises more questions than answers. Hope we get some definitive guidelines soon.

    We demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty.