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Smartphone Specific Crawl Errors Now Reported In Google Webmaster Tools

In an announcement made this morning on the official Google Webmaster Central Blog, starting today Google Webmaster Tools will now help you identify pages on your site that contain crawl errors specific to smartphones.

Some smartphone-optimized websites show error pages or redirect users to irrelevant pages while navigating on mobile, while desktop users wouldn’t run into these issues.

Googlebot detects these issues as crawl errors, and are the basis of some of the ranking changes for smartphone search results that Google announced this past summer. Not to mention they severely hinder the user experience.

Google Webmaster Tools is now making it much easier for website owners to identify these errors by adding a Smartphone tab to the Crawl Errors section. Some of the errors that will be reported in this section include:

  • Server errors: A server error is when Googlebot got an HTTP error status code when it crawled the page.
  • Not found errors and soft 404s: A page can show a “not found” message to Googlebot, either by returning an HTTP 404 status code or when the page is detected as a soft error page.
  • Faulty redirects: A faulty redirect is a smartphone-specific error that occurs when a desktop page redirects smartphone users to a page that is not relevant to their query. A typical example is when all pages on the desktop site redirect smartphone users to the homepage of the smartphone-optimized site.
  • Blocked URLs: A blocked URL is when the site’s robots.txt explicitly disallows crawling by Googlebot for smartphones. Typically, such smartphone-specific robots.txt disallow directives are erroneous. You should investigate your server configuration if you see blocked URLs reported in Webmaster Tools.

You can improve the user experience of your website and help Google’s algorithms better index your content by fixing the above issues and any others you may encounter in Webmaster Tools.

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Matt Southern is a marketing, communications and public relations professional. He provides strategic digital marketing services at an agency called Bureau in Ontario, Canada. He has a bachelors degree in communication and an unparalleled passion for helping businesses get their message out.

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