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Troubleshooting the Web for Smartphone Users

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Smartphone users make up a significant chunk of internet search, and that number is only projected to increase. But smartphone search faces some specific challenges when it comes to mobile internet use. Two of the most common issues are faulty redirects and issues exclusive to smartphones. Here’s a look at how to fix them and improve your mobile users’ experience:

Irrelevant redirects

If your site uses separate URLs for mobile and desktop users, make sure your redirects are all functioning fully. An irrelevant redirect is when a desktop page redirects a smartphone user to an irrelevant mobile page. For example, if www.example.com/about/ directs to m.example.com/ instead of m.example.com/about/, the user’s workflow is interrupted, and may result in the user abandoning the site altogether. Even if they stick with the site, it will add more work on a slow mobile network, which degrades the entire site experience.

Luckily, this is a simple fix: Redirect smartphone users to the mobile-optimized equivalent of the requested desktop page. If you haven’t formatted the content for a smartphone-friendly format, showing the full site on the mobile device is better than an irrelevant redirect.

Smartphone-Only Errors

If your desktop page displays correctly to desktop users, but shows an error page to mobile users, check for some of the most common problems:

  • If a user requests a desktop page from a mobile device and receives an error message, redirect them to the smartphone-friendly page at a different URL.
  • Correctly handle Googlebot-Mobile. The Googlebot-Mobile user-agents identify themselves as specific devices, and it’s important to handle them the same way you would treat those decides. Googlebot-Mobile for smartphones identifies as an iPhone, and you should be serving the same response an iPhone user would receive.
  • Correctly embed videos in a way that is compatible with smartphones. If content requires Adobe Flash, it won’t be playable on many Android versions, or iPhone.

Of course, there are more issues that can happen when using websites on a smartphone, but these are the most common. Giving your smartphone users a site experience that is free of error pages and irrelevant redirects can ultimately improve the entire experience with your brand or service. Be sure to test your site and video content fully on a variety of different mobile devices and operating systems. An effective search leads to a happy searcher, which makes for a better web experience overall, and that’s good for everyone.

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