Smartphone usage is on the rise, and to cater to the growing number of users, more mobile websites are popping up. Still, having a website optimized for smartphone browsing is something that has been viewed as more of an option, rather than a necessity. That could all change thanks to the new and improved Googlebot-Mobile.
In the past, Googlebot-Mobile, which as you may have guessed, is the mobile version of Googles web crawler, exclusively had its sights set on content optimized for feature phones. These are devices such as the LG enV Touch, Samsung Rogue, and other non-smartphones.
The company announced that it had created a new version of its mobile web crawler, one that utilizes an iPhone user agent to seek out content strictly made for smartphones. This is huge news considering that smartphones are becoming much more widespread and robust than their feature counterparts.
Googlebot-mobile In Action
Here is an example explaining what the new Googlebot-Mobile brings to the table.
Lets say an iPhone owner wants to use their device to find their favorite retail website and compare prices on products. If they go straight to the website by entering its URL in their mobile browser, the retailer detects the user agent in their browser, and redirects them to the mobile, optimized version of the site where they can browse with little to no trouble.
On the other hand, clicking the product page of that same website in the Google results would previously have the retailer serve the smartphone user a desktop version of the page, thus resulting in a lackluster experience.
The above problem occurs because only the retailers homepage is set up to detect smartphone traffic, and until recently, Google didnt actively seek out smartphone content.
From a theoretical standpoint, the new Googlebot-Mobile will create a better mobile browsing experience for the user. This is all made possible by the crawlers newfound ability to specifically seek out content created with smartphone users in mind.
SEO marketers can take full advantage by simply optimizing their mobile website to detect smartphone browsers on each and every page. Doing so will enable you to increase your visibility, and more importantly, create an optimal experience for the mobile user.
Having said that, Google itself explains that the best way to use the new Googlebot-Mobile is to approach it as you would a human user. This is an important factor not to be overlooked because giving the crawler one page for SEO purposes and users another could result in your site being penalized for violating Googles policy on cloaking, an offense it is taking very serious these days.
On a similar note, Google is also launching a new feature called Skip Redirect for Smartphone Optimized Pages.
What this feature does is skip the redirection process by changing the target link displayed in the search results and pointing directly to URL of the final destination that has been optimized for smartphone browsing.
Coupled with the new Googlebot-Mobile, features like this mean SEO marketers need to pay more attention than ever to their mobile content.