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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.

Category News Mobile SEO
SEJ STAFF Matt G. Southern Senior News Writer at Search Engine Journal

Matt G. Southern, Senior News Writer, has been with Search Engine Journal since 2013. With a bachelor’s degree in communications, ...

Google Retires the “Feature-Phone” Search Crawler

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