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Google Issues Penalty Against Mobile Sites Using Hidden Redirects

Google has made good on its promise to stop websites that trick users into visiting websites that they didn’t intend to visit. In October of 2015, Google previously warned webmasters about redirecting users to other sites without their permission.

As of May 2016, Google announced that they would be issuing penalties against websites that redirect mobile users to spammy domains. In 2015, as a part of its Webspam Report 2015, Google mentioned the importance of keeping such sites from earning high rankings as part of its efforts to fight spam.

The reason why Google decided to take this action is because sites that redirect users unexpectedly to other domains leaves users feeling frustrated. In addition, the users aren’t always made aware that the redirect will take place once they visit to site.

The second goal of the crackdown on sites that redirect is so that Google can make sure that users actually end up on the site that is being described by the snippet that Google shows on the search engine results page. The meta data for a site is always expected to be as accurate as possible according to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. As a result, sites that employ such redirects are not putting honest descriptions of their websites in the meta data.

Google Publishes Help Article on Hidden Redirects

Google has published a help article to assist webmasters with removing redirects from their websites that cause visitors to be automatically redirected to an unrelated site. However, it is also important to make the distinction between bad redirects and acceptable redirects.

When it comes to mobile websites, Google has already made allowances for sites that need to redirect mobile visitors to mobile versions of websites. It is a known fact, that mobile browsers can not support the same kind of content that desktop browsers can.

As a result, some content, including pages and images need to be modified with mobile users being redirected to these versions of the pages that improve their mobile experiences. However, when it comes to bad redirects, the purpose for the redirect very rarely is designed to provide the user with a better user experience. Instead, site visitors are “tricked” into visiting sites that they don’t want to go to.

How Do I Prevent Hidden Mobile Redirects?

The following are examples of configurations that should be avoided in order to prevent sneaky mobile directs:

  • Site code that defines redirection rules specifically for mobile users
  • Using scripts or elements to monetize content or display ads that can redirect mobile users
  • Hacked sites which contain scripts or elements that redirect mobile users to dangerous websites

How to Reduce the Risk of Hidden Redirects on Your Site

To check for mobile redirects, you should test your site to make sure that you are not being redirected when you visit your website on a smartphone. You should also put monitoring tools in place to ensure that your site is not hacked. However, avoiding adding malicious scripts or elements to your website is generally the best way to avoid hidden redirects.

If you want to find out about the trustworthiness of the advertisers that you allow on your website to ensure that ad scripts do not contain hidden redirect rules, start by reviewing the Trustworthy Accountability Group’s (Interactive Advertising Bureau) Inventory Quality Guidelines are a good place to start.

If you want to monetize your website by running ads that will not risk the reputation of your website, contact Infintech Designs in New Orleans today and Brian Hong will assist you with creating a better strategy for monetizing your mobile traffic.


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