Another day, another Good Guy Google announcement (even if it was yesterday): everyone's favorite search giant just announced that it's really tired of mobile web pages that do this (click, read, sympathize immediately).

If you really don't want to click that link (you should, it's hilarious), allow me to explain. Ever notice how when you search the web on your smartphone, and you click a search result for a specific page or section of a website, sometimes it'll just throw you back to the mobile homepage, with no respect to the page you actually asked for? Of course you have. It's happened to everyone, and it's absolutely infuriating, especially if the page you're looking for isn't even available on the mobile site. Here's a nice illustration of that kind of "doing it wrong" behavior:

N1 redirects

Google, like you, is really tired of this. They're so tired of it that they're hanging the threat of reduced mobile search rankings over the heads of websites that do it. There are reasons some sites do this - mostly laziness - but the fact is it creates a really terrible user experience. And Google isn't stopping there with the demands. Oh yes, it gets better. Here are other behaviors Google is targeting as a basis for downrankification (in mobile searches):

  • 404ing or "soft" 404ing visits from smartphones to desktop pages - Google wants a redirect to the equivalent mobile page to be served.
  • Giving errors on a mobile web page stating the content is not available on mobile - you must provide the equivalent desktop page to the user if that page is not available on your mobile site.
  • Flash or other unplayable video embeds on mobile web pages.

Overall, Google wants web pages to stop being annoying and misdirecting smartphone users to useless mobile homepages, error pages, or video they can't watch. It wants the web to be a mobile-friendly sort of place. To be clear: Google is not requiring anyone to actually have a mobile site, but it wants those with them to behave in a way that will not provide dead-ends or useless redirects, or give users the runaround on what is or isn't available on mobile.

And that's just fine with me.

Google Webmaster Central Blog

David Ruddock
David's phone is whatever is currently sitting on his desk. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • mechapathy


  • Jose

    do this to MTV, please! :) you'd think mtv.com would have at least minimal mobile web experience, or seek intentions to do so.

    • Ark

      I'd think MTV wasn't a thing anymore

      • RTWright

        It's not, it should be called or renamed to RTV ( Reality TV ). Because that's all that's on that crappy station anymore.

  • missinginput

    Does this apply to youtube blocking mobile access?

    • MasterMuffin


    • eccles11

      Yes and no. Because with youtube, you CAN choose to go to the desktop site, and your content will no longer be blocked.

  • MasterMuffin


    And here's a joke to give you your evening laugh: Bing :D

    • Tomáš Petrík

      I gave you an upvote for the joke :)

      • MasterMuffin

        Thanks, +1 :D

  • Jake Falcon

    The Guardian.

  • mlj11

    Hey Google, while you're at it, could you also make all YouTube videos available on mobile? I never understood the rationale of allowing uploaders to exclude mobile users, especially with all the powerful phones available these days. It's super annoying.

    • Matt

      Some of the ads YouTube uses for monetization can't be seen on mobile. It's that simple.

      • Matthew Fry

        And it's still stupid. It's the largest growing segment of youtube views.

      • Mike Harris

        So rather than letting the consumer (who doesn't even want the ad) get a pass by not viewing the ad for that video, we get nothing? It's a lose-lose situation. Why does Google need to make us suffer with them?

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

          I don't think Google is trying to make anyone suffer - YouTube is all about hits and ad impressions. They want as many as possible. I'm sure they're trying as hard as they can to get more mobile content available.

          And as others point out, many songs aren't available because of intellectual property issues. YouTube would need to negotiate a new deal with those rightsholders.

          • nwaves

            How about strong arm the copyright holders just like they do it with webpage owners? If the copyright holder chooses to post the video on Youtube then it should be available on all browsers, mobile or desktop. Why give them the option to only present it to desktop browsers?

          • RvLeshrac

            Right, but what the fuck does the viewing device have to do with anything? How is a notebook different from a tablet, smartphone, or other device? How is a tablet or smartphone that has a browser any different from a desktop with a browser?

          • missinginput

            This is what drives me nuts its basically screen and OS discrimination I don't understand what legal basis there is to allows rights holders to block access to specific operating systems

            My transformer and a laptop are just as "mobile" youtube should have to block laptops if its a "mobile" rights issue

            Since I most often am using my phone as my internet connection it makes no sense at all I can watch the video on my device running windows but not android using the same data connection.

        • Joris Griffioen

          You're kidding right?

          1. You have no right to watch those video's, it's a priveledge.
          2. Serving video's costs money, a LOT of money, so that's why.

          They *should* find a solution sure, but in the meantime I totally get that they don't want to throw money down the drain. Plus, where are you going to go? Vimeo?

          • Mike Harris

            Since there's no way you'll be able to get down from a horse that high, how about you trot along, douchebag. Ba bye.

          • Joris Griffioen

            Okay, I'll dignify your douchebaggery with a response:

            You do realise Google is a business right? That they choose to give away a lot of stuff for free (with or without monetisation by ads) does not mean that the stuff is yours to get.

            You say "why does Google have to make us suffer?" .. I'm just saying that you are indicating that the right situation would be for Google to suffer .. which is just plain wrong. They are giving you a free service, they get to decide how far it extends, not you.

            Everybody feels so entitled to all of this, and has no clue how much money it costs to develop even one app or maintain the Youtube servers for even one minute.

    • Waveblade

      Or anything that has been flagged with copyrighted material

    • navjot

      That has more to do with copyright laws than Google not wanting to serve you the content. Some videos containing certain types of music are not licensed to be played on mobile devices.

      • Alan Shearer

        Licenses cause many a problem for good content, even when it does not make sense. (Often leads to piracy as well)

    • MasterMuffin

      It's because mobile users can't see the pop ups. Though a better way to do this would be to make the pop ups available on mobile, not leave mobile users just out!

      • Ryan

        Youtube has in-video ads, so mobile users can see them depending on the settings the person uses. All but one of my videos have no ads in them, and I started ticking to allow mobile users to view my videos. (it'd take me a while to edit my past ones to allow them, where I previously didn't)

        • MasterMuffin

          I mean the pop up messages, the ones with different colors and stuff :)

          • RvLeshrac

            That's an artificial restriction introduced by Google, it has nothing to do with anyone else.

    • mustbepbs

      I especially hate that Youtube in-video links do not work on the app.

  • Sean Thomas

    This has never happened to me...? weird.

    • Leandros99

      Same here, has never happened to me ...

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Definitely ran into this crap on many occasions, though less frequently lately.

  • http://www.deathbycone.com Jared Kotoff

    mobile specific sites were just a stepping stone to responsive webdesign. If a website isn't using responsive design then they deserve to be down-ranked.
    or like, just show us the normal page too, cause that works perfectly fine you know.

  • CuriousCursor

    Also, while you're at it Google, make sure your own websites honour the "Request desktop website" setting.

  • Benjamin Pavel

    Happened to me few times but that was 2-3 years ago where mobile pages were still kinda bad.

  • Nathaniel Webb

    CNN, i'm glaring at you.

    • Metroview

      JUST was about to post this haha

  • Matthew Fry

    Does this apply to the sites that redirect to pages that say, "Dummy, we have an app for this (it's only iOS though)?" That's what I get now all the time.

  • Mike Harris

    Could they do the reverse also? I hate when I'm browsing facebook on a PC and click on somebody's link that directs me to the mobile version of the site.

    • Justin Winker

      Or Disqus comments drive you to the mobile version of the site... That's extremely annoying when on a desktop. Not something Google can help with, but it's extremely frustrating.

    • Freak4Dell

      Yeah, sites have a way to detect mobile browsers, so I don't see why they can't detect PC browsers and direct users to the full website if the browser is not a mobile browser. Or, you know, do something to stop lazy people from sharing mobile links.

  • Pascal

    I prefer pc versions of websites.

  • iboalali

    it happened with me on twitter

  • mynamedoesnotfi

    Sounds like good idea.

    The only ones I hate more, are the ones that won't piss off with their mobile site, even when I've forced my browser into desktop mode.

  • Alan Shearer

    Have muscle will flex! lol,

    Sounds good to me!

  • Austin Sam

    Finally! It'd be fine with me if they also stopped assuming you want their mobile version just because you're using a smartphone. I'm using a modern large screen phone and Chrome, not a quasi feature phone with a tiny screen and a dinky browser. Yeah I know there's a lot of iPhones out there with tiny screens but let them have to pick the mobile site if they want it.

    • Freak4Dell

      This wouldn't be an issue if the "request desktop site" option actually worked. Half the time it unchecks it self, and the other half, it just simply does nothing.

  • Davy Jones

    How about mobile pages that ruin the back button through their redirects? Would love to see those go to.

  • Neal Horowitz
  • GazaIan

    "Flash or other unplayable video embeds on mobile web pages."

    This is actually wonderful, I can't tell you how many times I've had this happen on not just my Android devices, but also my iPad. I like where this is going. Hopefully this point pushes more people to HTML5, WebM, H.264 and H.265 video formats... Anything that's a win for all, really.

    • RTWright

      Right now I'm experimenting with HTML 5 and Progressive Web Design on my site. I'm not using any Flash at all and it's based on WordPress. But some of it still doesn't want to behave right just yet. Alas.... Web Development in a constant state of flux! :)

  • Miah

    And yet AndroidPolice mobile site is buggy. Scrolling freezes!

  • FrillArtist

    It's funny how I'm reading this on the Android Police mobile site and it's constantly redirecting.

  • HopelesslyFaithful

    or better yet make it where a site never sends you to a mobile version. i hate mobile versions with a passion and never want to see a mobile site. I can't think of a single site that i have been too where i wasn't happy just seeing the regular site

    • Primalxconvoy

      I love the mobile versions of sites. I even use the feature phone version of Facebook's mobile site on my pc, smartphone and ps3. It's better for me than the pc version and with the right shortcuts and tinkering, absolutely no spam or adverts.

  • Primalxconvoy

    " Giving errors on a mobile web page stating the content is not available on mobile - you must provide the equivalent desktop page to the user if that page is not available on your mobile site."

    Does that mean Google will also carry this threat to YouTube; home of "The copyright holder/uploader has restricted this content for mobile phones"?

  • Cody Curry

    This is great news. It's horribly frustrating to navigate some sites on mobile devices as it is. And some sites don't work with a Request Desktop Site functionality, which is also infuriating.

    But let's see how long it takes for someone to cry that Google is discriminating against some sort of site unfairly with this feature.

  • John O’Connor

    And how about those useless redirects that ask if you want to continue on to the desktop page anyway only to refresh the same damn screen you are on (even when in DESKTOP mode)

    I certainly stop going to those sites.

  • andyrwebman

    How about addressing the opposite issue - ensuring that PC users (still a
    significant audience) have a rich experience that befits their large
    (or multiple)screens and extra peripherals?

    You may get more hits
    from the mobile, but it's still a limited experience because of the
    screen being small and you just can't do much serious content creation.
    Try typing a long essay on one. No wonder Facebook is becoming dominated
    by mindless pictures and a few badly typed comments.

    The PC is
    the deluxe interface, and it's being dumbed down to the bog standard one
    (mobile). To use an analogy - it's as if we were having to adapt our
    superhighways just to make them all bicycle friendly, with the result
    that you can't drive your car faster than 20 mph.

    first philosophy is making the web bland, boring, and lacking in
    potential. And what it's doing to Windows is even worse. Smartphones
    have their place, but if you can do everything you need to do on one you
    haven't really begun to unlock the potential of computers.