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Mobile and Desktop - both same version, responsive - which one?

     
4:48 pm on Aug 3, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Hey guys,

My company is in a middle of a redesign lanuch of their website. So we have m.domain.com and for desktop we just have domain.com and both rank well for their respective platforms in Google. In the current (old) structure we have a different site for mobile which is at m.domain.com. But on the new redesign we have a fully responsive site, so obviously best thing to do is redirect m.domain.com to domain.com.

My company is a bit reluctant to make the redirect switch from m.domain.com to domain.com on new design now as the next 1 month is very critical from business point of view so they want to play it safe and not do any mobile redirects incase there are any loss of rankings from the redirect as Google sometimes takes a bit of time to follow the URLs and what not. So they decided to make the redirect switch from mobile to desktop 1 month after.

So now that we are launching the new site on both m.domain.com and domain.com - both domains will have exactly the same responsive sites. How do you figure we should proceed to persevere rankings so Google doesn't see them as duplicate content? Would adding rel=alternate tag on desktop version pointing to mobile and adding rel canonical tag on mobile version to desktop do the trick in this case?

Many thanks in advance.
5:21 pm on Aug 3, 2019 (gmt 0)

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"canonical" on the mobile site pointing to the "desktop" site. This will also start the switch automatically , since Google will begin replacing the m. pages.

"to me", the alternate is useless in that case.

But wait for wiser guys.
5:42 pm on Aug 3, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for the feedback Dimitri. Will wait for a couple more replies to decide course of action!
11:26 pm on Aug 3, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@Dimitri what would you do ?
10:40 am on Aug 4, 2019 (gmt 0)

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How do you figure we should proceed to persevere rankings so Google doesn't see them as duplicate content?


Unless I am missing something simple then it is duplicate content and you could actually end up harming or even splitting your current rankings.

Do you have all new urls or the same structure? If it is the same structure then 301 the .m.domain.com to domain.com, if they are all new urls then the whole lot's going to have to be re-indexed and re-ranked.

So they decided to make the redirect switch from mobile to desktop 1 month after.


If it is deemed that important then what's another month's wait going to harm since fully responsive has been around for years?

FWIW over the past 6 years I have converted several sites from static to responsive using the same content and urls and Google has been very quick to recognise them ... One caveat, Google is definitely slower with new stuff these days, existing urls and content should not have any/much effect at all.
11:06 am on Aug 4, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@Dimitri what would you do ?

If you want to keep the two sites m. and "desktop", I would do what I said, "canonical" on m. to the "desktop

However, if it was "my" site, first of all I would have never ran mobile and desktop versions on two different URLs, but that's an other subject :), ... so if it was my site, I would do the redirect straight away, as @RedBar said.

( I guess your site is already HTTPS , otherwise it's again another kind of switch to be made )
11:44 am on Aug 4, 2019 (gmt 0)

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If the next month is important I would have waited to switch to the new redesigned site until after that.

I assume the URL's are the same and all content is the same it is just a new template design. Still that in it self could change your search rankings a bit

Technically you now have 3 sites. A pure mobile site on m.domain.com and then a mobile and desktop on the responsive site. I am not sure if Google will just pick one of the mobile sites as the default and continue as normally or think you may have duplicate mobile issues.

If the next month is really that important I would consider either switching back to the old non-responsive design or add in the redirects now so there is no confusion.
2:19 pm on Aug 4, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Simply continue redirecting traffic as you have been. Send mobile traffic to m.domain.com and desktop domain.com. The fact that the page is now responsive should make absolutely no difference.

Using a canonical is not the correct thing to do in my opinion, as it may be ignored.

When ready change the redirect from being device based, to straight a 301 redirect from m to non-m.
3:39 pm on Aug 4, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Thanks everyone for the feedback! Much appreciated.

@NickMNS - If I do that and since mobile and desktop will serve exact same content, won't Google look at it as Duplicate content?
6:05 pm on Aug 4, 2019 (gmt 0)

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If I do that and since mobile and desktop will serve exact same content, won't Google look at it as Duplicate content?

That is the point of responsive. Show the same content and only adapt the layout. With a separate mobile and desktop versions you typically would like to strive for the same, but instead have two separates websites to achieve this. From the user's perspective the content should be the same.

Now apply this to Googlebot, if it crawls as mobile-googlebot it will see the mobile layout on m.mydomain.com and if comes as desktop-googlebot it sees the desktop version, just like it did before. It doesn't change anything as to how it interprets your site. Your site redesign may have changed the content but that change will simply be seen as update of the content.

Now in the future when you redirect all the traffic m.domain.com to domain.com Googlebot will simply see everything at one place.

I really think that adding canonical links is going to confuse things and cause problems more than anything else.
8:31 pm on Aug 4, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Now apply this to Googlebot, if it crawls as mobile-googlebot it will see the mobile layout on m.mydomain.com and if comes as desktop-googlebot it sees the desktop version,

I am unsure about this.

The non-m. domain will "now" be featuring a responsible design. Googlebot browses in mobile device mode now. So, when Googlebot visits the non-m. it will find it to be mobile friendly (the same way it finds the m. domain mobile friendly too.

Also, I am unsure if there is a redirect depending of platform. I mean, from the description of the "actual" situation, it sounds like there is a mobile site running on m. and a desktop version on the non-m. domain. But, there is no mention that, depending of user's platform a redirection is made. So if someone from a mobile device access the desktop version, is he redirected to the mobile version?
10:08 pm on Aug 4, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Yes the redirects are based on the device. So Googlebot/users will go to m.domain.com if visited from a mobile device. Same for desktop users/bots if they go on mobile site, they will get redirected to domain.com. So essentially Googlebot won't be able to see that site is responsive which is good in my case. This way we can add mobile redirect to homepage after the company says it's time.
11:44 pm on Aug 4, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Honestly, if this month thing is so darned important then just wait and then throw everything at the new site.

IMHO, FWIW, this should have been done years ago!
3:05 am on Aug 5, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Sounds like taking two steps backwards to take one forward.

Leave the critters in place until the roll out of the new ... apply any redirects NECESSARY after that.
3:08 am on Aug 5, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Meant to ad that when I moved to responsive I just changed the pages one at a time (in batches of course!) and left the site hierarchy in place. Beauty was the site remained fully functional the whole change over and the SE's found the content "as usual" with no problems.

And the USERS got to see the changes in bits and pieces without being SUDDENLY SHOWN SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT ...
 

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