M-dot, big brands big mistakes

by Jim September 19, 2017

Hey, welcome back, Rankers. You having a good day? Last week I was on Sky News, so for those of you who asked about that and where do you find it, you just go to my YouTube channel and it’s up there. Now, I wanted to talk to you a little bit today about why Ford is better than Holden, but before we get to that … that’s because we’ve had big motor racing sports over the weekend. I thought, “Hey, this is topical.”

M-dot Sites

So, what happened was last Thursday Google brought out another announcement about moving from m-dot sites to a mobile responsive site and m-dot is what was used as a sub-domain for when businesses were creating mobile sites. It was the first way we used to do it back in the day when we first started having phones that could actually look at websites. And that was because it was, you know, different coding you had just for that device or a bunch of devices. Since then though, we’ve had responsive design for a number of years, which just basically automatically resizes the site so it can be viewed on every device and you have one site.

The problem with going m-dot, say stewartmedia.com.au, is that we would have to have a separate site there and maintain a whole separate site. The other problem that you can have from it is that a mistake a lot of businesses made was that they put down a cut down version of their desktop site as their mobile site. So, it wasn’t the full version and what would happen is that someone would search that business on a mobile device and they would find a desktop URL. They would click on that and then they get redirected to the mobile version of the site. Google sees that as a real problem and they call that a faulty redirect. And if you are running an m-dot site, a separate m-dot site, you may have some of those errors already in Google Search Console on the desktop.
So, basically it’s messy to do that way. Now, because we’re moving to a mobile first index, that means that the mobile index is going to be treated as the most important, meaning that users on mobile are going to be the most important. Now if you’ve got an m-dot site, that means all of a sudden that becomes the most important piece of content for your business and if you’re doing it like most businesses are doing, which is badly, you’re going to have a cut-down version and you’re going to probably lose a lot of traffic if you’re doing it this way.

Mobile First

So, by having a single site with a responsive design, you only have to maintain one site and it’s just a lot easier and you can be assured that you don’t have to worry about different indexing issues and all those sorts of things. So, Google’s put together this handy guide, but unfortunately you can’t get an auto-mobile site, but you can get an automobile site. You see what I did there? And when I go and have a look at the automobile site. Let’s have a look. So, this a search that you can do at home. What I’m doing here is I’m looking for mobile sites or sites with m-dot in Australia. At the moment the search is saying “site:m.*.gov.au”. I didn’t know I could use a wildcard in a site: operator, but you can, so, that’s cool. Then I go and have a look at site:m.*.com.au it gives me all the com.au sites at mobile.
Now, I’ve been looking around this morning. I can see that Ford, Ford had seven results on m-dot. Now I thought “Oh, hello.” Turns out they’ve all been re-directed properly and they’re re-directing to their equivalent site. So, it looks like Ford is getting away from the mobile site. However, their arch nemesis Holden is not and you can see Holden here has got 822 results at m.holden.com.au and I can actually surf to those results. So, I can go to m.holden.com.au on my desktop, which is bad. Right? Because I’m seeing a mobile version of the site on my desktop. I should be re-directed at the very least to a desktop version of that content.

So, not only does Holden have an m-dot site, they’re allowing users and presumably users on a mobile device to go straight to the desktop version of the site as well. I haven’t actually tested that, but that’s a real issue when we move to mobile first and that could be a big problem. The other problem with something like this, of course, is duplicate content. So, we’ve got a lot of duplicate content and I’ve had a look at the URLs. None of them are canonical. So, normally with a mobile site with an m-dot site, you might canonical it to the desktop equivalent page, but today I would say just move to responsive design. These mobile pages are all canonicaled self-referencing to themselves. So, we’ve got duplication of content and we’ve got equivalent pages on the mobile and equivalent pages on the desktop. But of course with car manufacturers and dealerships, that’s the least of their problems because most of them have templated sites. The dealers have them anyway and they’re just copying all the content from the manufacturer.

But, if you do have an m-dot site, I would start planning and try to get it moved before the end of the year because it looks like everyone’s saying early next year we’re going to have mobile first, but we don’t really know. And I’d just like to say thank you to John Mueller for liking my tweet this morning when I asked anybody if they wanted an SEO audit. If you do want an SEO audit, just a freebie, all I need, obviously, is your domain name. It helps if you could add [email protected] to your search console so we can have a look and get inside. And you’ve got to be freely willing to share your data with everyone else and we can help people. Now, if you haven’t subscribed to the show, just make sure you hit the subscribe button on YouTube and we will see you next week. Thank you very much. Bye.

Jim’s been here for a while, you know who he is.

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