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Google's search to shame sites that don't play well with phones

Few things are more frustrating than trying to click through to a site via your smartphone, only to find that it redirects you to a mobile-formatted site that has nothing to do with what you're looking for.

Fortunately, this doesn't happen often, and Google's new mobile search policy should help stamp this practice out entirely.

Google said this week that sites that provide a so-called "faulty redirect" to another page may be called out in mobile search results. And if users still want to continue on, they'll have to click through Google's link, which will be hidden behind the phrase, "Try anyway."

"We'd like to spare users the frustration of landing on irrelevant pages and help webmasters fix the faulty redirects," Mariya Moeva, a Webmaster trends analyst, wrote in a blog post. Usually this happens because the website is not properly set up to handle requests from smartphones, Google noted.

Google recommended Webmasters without a dedicated smartphone-formatted page simply keep users on the desktop version of the page, rather than serving up an awkwardly formatted, wrong site. Google has been an advocate of responsive web design, which serves the same content for smartphones and desktops through a series of techniques that simply adapt the content to the different screen sizes of tablets and smartphones.

But Google's motives aren't totally altruistic. Yes, giving users the right page saves time. "Even if the user perseveres and finds the correct page on the smartphone-optimized site, irrelevant redirects add more work, which is particularly troublesome for users on slower mobile networks," Google said.

But here's the real reason. "In addition to frustrating users, these faulty redirects can cause problems with our crawling, indexing, and ranking algorithms," Google noted.

Correctly identifying the source and ranking of a link allows Google to better index the Web, serve up higher-value ads, and make more money. And that, as they say, is the bottom line.

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