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Google Retires the “Feature-Phone” Search Crawler

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Google Retires the “Feature-Phone” Search Crawler

Google is retiring a version of Googlebot that was designed specifically for crawling content on feature-phones. Feature-phones are limited mobile devices, or the ancestor of smartphones if you will, and they require their own form of markup for web content.

Since feature-phones are not as widely used as they once were, the majority of websites do not provide feature-phone-compatible content in WAP/WML. As a result, Google will no longer be using the feature-phone Googlebot anymore.

With the feature phone Googlebot no longer operating anymore, it’s Search Console tools have been rendered obsolete. These include the Fetch as Google feature-phone options, and feature-phone crawl errors report.

Google says these changes should have minimal impact on webmasters, as most sites don’t serve feature-phone content anyway.

Although if your site has been serving feature-phone content, Google recommends using a different type of markup to direct feature-phone users to content that’s properly optimized for their device:

<link rel="alternate" media="handheld" href="[current page URL]" />

Rest assured none of these changes affect smartphones, they only affect the crawling and serving of content on feature-phones.

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Matt Southern

Lead News Writer at Search Engine Journal

Matt Southern has been the lead news writer at Search Engine Journal since 2013. With a degree in communications, Matt ... [Read full bio]

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