Why a mobile version of your site can damage Google rankings.
A recent announcement by Google means that having a separate version of your site for mobile may damage your ranking on Google.
Websites need to work well on desktops, laptops, tablets and phones. The correct way to achieve this is with a Responsive Web Site, one that responds to the device on which it is being viewed.
A weaker way is to have two sites, one for mobile and one for desktop, and a bit of technical wizardry to direct users to the right one. It’s weak for lots of reasons:
- It’s double the work to update the site
- Users will go to the wrong version, say by opening a link in an email
- Google may see the two sites as duplicated content, which it dislikes
- Neither version works well on tablets
Often the mobile site has less content, to suit smaller screens. Sometimes it does not get all the updates applied to the the main site. Both of these are problems, because Google is moving towards a mobile-first index.
Google has one index used for all searches, mobile and desktop. At the moment it’s based on the desktop version of sites. That is changing, to a mobile-first index. If your mobile site has less content, or older content, that’s what will be indexed, and your ranking will be damaged.
The reason for the change is simple: Google now sees more searches from mobile than from desktop.