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Technically, You Can Have Completely Different Content On Mobile Says Google
Gary Illyes from Google confirms Google really only looks at the desktop content for mobile ranking purposes.
In SEO, there is this concept of cloaking, which is basically when you show the search engine a piece of content that is not what the user sees. Back in the old days, it was done in extreme ways, like showing users adult content but showing the search engines G-rated content.
At SMX Advanced yesterday, during the mobilegeddon panel, Google’s Gary Illyes confirmed what was known before — for many of the factors and ranking criteria around mobile, Google looks at the desktop version of a web page.
So, technically, if you serve up a URL with content about Alice In Wonderland on the desktop version, but you decide to serve up content about Payday Loans on the mobile version, Google will rank the mobile version as if the page was about Alice In Wonderland.
Illyes explained that Google set up a spam team to investigate if these practices were happening, and he was a bit surprised to see it wasn’t. He said Google has checked for over a year and didn’t find site owners doing this. He explained that it doesn’t mean that Google won’t be able to take action on webmasters who go this route. Google can apply manual actions and penalties when needed, but they have not needed to yet.
This was one reason for Google to build a separate mobile index and not share the desktop index with the mobile index. Illyes said Google has been experimenting with this, but he does not know if Google will ever end up going with a separate mobile index. There are pros and cons to both methods.
But right now, the vast majority of signals your mobile site is seeing in the mobile search results are from the desktop crawl. This includes content, page speed, links and all the factors with the exception of mobile user experience.
Illyes said the next thing added to the mobile-only factors will likely be interstitial ads as a negative factor and then looking at the speed of your mobile site versus your desktop site.