Google Alters Mobile Site Design via SERPs

Since stats reveal more and more people are arriving on our main website using mobile devices, we wanted a simple, mobile-friendly page to convey a concise summary of our offer and our contact information to mobile users.

We created a mini-site with the information we wanted, then tested the mobile site using various online apps, as well as with our our own phones, etc. - and confirmed that it displays okay on all devices.

If a person searches Google on their mobile device for keywords relative to our business and geo location, and clicks on our website in the search results, then sees and clicks on our Mobile Website link, Google changes the site so that it doesn’t display correctly.

If a mobile user goes directly to our mobile site, it displays just fine. However, a potential new customer isn’t going to know about the mobile URL without direction. And even with a direct link, Google still alters the site’s design.

Does anyone know how to address this seemingly important aspect of mobile site development? What can be done to fix the problem of Google interfering with how a mobile site displays?

Our simple mobile site was built using standard HTML, yet it displays good enough on a variety of mobile devices. We placed a link to it on the top right of the main website.

Main site:
Mobile site:

From a user’s point of view, I hate this too. The paginated and de-formatted version of a site that Google automatically directs you to with (as far as I can tell) no option to opt out, is invariably completely useless, and the first thing I do is spend several minutes scrolling to the bottom (because of course when you de-style and linearise a page it goes on forever) to get the “view original page” link - why can’t they at least put that at the top? All incredibly frustrating.

Thanks for your feedback … I thought I was going insane … you’re the first person to even acknowledge the fact that Google disfigures mobile sites … and you are correct … there is no way to escape or opt out of her trap.

I have never heard of Google changing a site’s rendering. I was wondering if maybe the mobile device was caching the non-mobi CSS and using that when you changed over to the mobi site. If Google is messing with rendering, what the #%!&#! are they doing ?!

It would be great if someone could click through to the website from a Google keyword query on a mobile phone, then visit the Mobile Site link to see how it looks - that is, compared to the [URL=“”]original mobile site.

[font=verdana]By heck, Google don’t make it easy to see anything specific, they are determined that you will not use mobile search from a PC, no matter how much you try to tell them “Just give me the damn mobile search!”. On reflection, shouting at my computer may not have been a particularly effective strategy. But anyway.

On my mobile (Windows Phone 7.5), if I go to it gives me the mobile site, and then whenever I click a link it gives me a reformatted (or basically deformatted version of the page). You can see the page it sends me to here:

Note that it sends you to a mobile-ified version of the www page, not the mobile site. And no matter how good your mobile site, it will still be massacred in the same way, because Google assumes automatically that it must deformat your site so it does that without any consideration of whether you have a mobile site that it can serve directly.

It’s damn frustrating. On the one hand, I can use Google, which gives very good search results but is a pain in the bum trying to get to view the actual page – on the other hand I can use Bing, which is what my phone tries to steer me into doing, and which doesn’t try to do anything stupid like stop me from seeing the proper page, but does just give rubbish search results. On the whole, I think Google wins, but it’s a close call which of them is worse…[/font]

Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about … no matter that the mobile site looks just fine on a mobile device, Google distorts it to their logic … thanks for checking it out Stevie.

Although I have now (and only because of this discussion, it hadn’t occurred to me to check any other time in the last 9 months) realised that if I log into my Google account, I can set a preference for it not to mangle the page and just to send me straight there. :weee:

Incredible - unless you have, and are logged into a Google account (and have read this thread), mobile sites you visit will be re-rendered/re-designed according to how Google sees fit - no matter loss of the site’s usability. Thanks for the tip. I’ll check it out myself and pass it on.