Google Warns Deceptive Mobile Redirects Result in Manual Actions

Google is getting more aggressive in its fight against deceptive mobile-only redirects. In most cases mobile-only redirects are perfectly fine, as long as they help people access the content they requested in a mobile-friendly format. Mobile-only redirects become a problem when they direct smartphone traffic to unwanted content — such as a page or website they didn’t intend to visit.

Not only is that activity frowned upon, it goes against Google’s webmaster guidelines and can result in a manual action penalty if the search giant finds out. Google is giving Webmasters yet another warning because now it has become known that deceptive redirects sometimes occur without the Webmaster even knowing about it.

How can this happen? Google gives two possible explanations:
  • Advertising: A script installed to display ads might end up redirecting mobile users to a different site, unbeknownst to the webmaster.
  • Hacking: If your site gets hacked, attackers could set up redirects to spammy domains for mobile users only.

The only way to know for sure if there are deceptive mobile redirects on your site is to search for it in Google on your phone and click on the results. In addition, Google also recommends you keep an eye on this by listening to user complaints of redirects, and monitoring analytics data for unusual activity — like a sudden drop in mobile traffic.

Google Warns Deceptive Mobile Redirects Result in Manual Actions


If deceptive mobile redirects are in place on your site, Google recommends checking Search Console for any warnings about site hacks.

If there’s no sign of a site hack, there could be a problem with third-party scripts/elements on your site. You can narrow down which one is causing the problem by disabling them one at a time and testing to see if the redirect issue has been fixed.
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