Google Penalizes Sneaky Mobile Redirects

It’s a final call to all the website owners who are manipulating the users by using sneaky mobile redirects. Google penalizes sneaky mobile redirects sites from May 2016 onwards. This is a direct threat to website owners who are manipulating the user to an unwanted or irrelevant website from mobile search result page.

Google has officially confirmed about sneaky mobile redirects in their Google+ account. Back in 2015 Google had already warned all the webmasters not to trick any mobile users by redirecting them to an irrelevant site. Follow the article completely to detect and remove unwanted sneaky mobile redirects.

Google+ Post on Sneaky Mobile Redirects

As mentioned in Webspam Report 2015 (https://goo.gl/dtZyAz), spam reports from users are an important part of our spam-fighting efforts. They often help us surface issues that frustrate users – like the trend of websites redirecting mobile users to other, often spammy domains.

To combat this trend, we have been taking action on sites that sneakily redirect users in this way. If your site has been affected, read this Help Center article on detecting and getting rid of unwanted sneaky mobile redirects:https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/6388720.

As always, if you have questions, visit our Webmaster Help Forums (https://support.google.com/webmasters/go/community) where experienced webmasters and Googlers are there to help.

Sneaky redirects are never a good user-friendly and Google has always penalized such sites. Google should have done it in early 2015 but it was a fair warning to all the webmasters to clean up their website redirections.

Below is the illustration of sneaky redirects from Google+

Google penalizes mobile sites using sneaky redirects
Google penalizes mobile sites using sneaky redirects

Google has mentioned in their support about the sneaky redirects as a Most frustrating and annoying user experience as the URL shown in the search snippet is one and upon clicking on the URL user is redirected to the different site altogether.

Google says that sneaky redirects are usually created intentionally by the website owners, but there were some situations where mobile only redirects happen without the knowledge of the website owner.

Below are some of the technical issues which might lead to sneaky redirects.

  • Adding any kind of code which creates a redirection rule for mobile users. Especially redirection based on user agent in .htaccess or URL rewrite engines.
  • Using display ads to monetize the content by adding some JavaScripts which in turn does sneaky redirects to mobile users.
  • A script that has been added from hackers which redirect mobile users to malicious websites.

These are some of the causes which Google has reported where every website owners must check in their site and resolve ASAP if any issue is found.

How to Detect sneaky mobile redirects on your website

Follow the steps carefully to verify if your site has any sneaky mobile redirects.

Verify your website URL’s in Smart Phone

The first step is to browse your website on a smartphone and see if all the URLs are driven to proper pages. Use google search to browse some of the URL and verify if the URL is shown in the search result and on clicking it is visited the same page. You could also do this in browsers like Chrome and Firefox by using developer tools.



Listen to your users

Most of the times users will start complaining if they see any such kind of issues. If you have blog commenting or forum enabled then people might communicate if they find any issue.

Check Google Analytics Data for Mobile Users

The best way is to Digg into your analytics to find the complete details about the sneaky mobile redirection. Keep monitoring the average time mobile user are spending on your site. Compare the data with previous months and see if there is anything cooking.

Most of the times mobile users might land into your websites and some of the ads might redirect them to another malicious site. Hence monitor if there is any large changes going on with mobile users when compared to desktop users.

Cleaning up sneaky mobile directs

Make sure that your website is not hacked

The first steps is to check if your site has not been hacked by any hacker. Check the Security Issues tool in Search Console to get some information from Google if there is any serious problem. If at all you site is been hacked then read the guidelines from google for hacked sites

Remove the third party JavaScripts from your site

If your website is not compromised then the other issue might be a malicious script running on your website which may cause sneaky redirects. Remove the scripts one by one and check until the redirection stops using the mobile device or some emulation tools.

If you think a plugin or script may be causing this issue then immediately remove the script and disable the plugin and debug the issue later.

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1 Response

  1. jim jason says:

    I dont know what the problem is with my site, maybe a long time back I did use to redirect it or because googlebot has no access to ad scripts but 3 of my 5 sites are penalized, earlier, when I took manual action it was removed, I have done it again but it has been a few days, there is no response

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