Technically, You Can Have Completely Different Content On Mobile Says Google

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In SEO there is this concept of cloaking, cloaking is basically when you show the search engine a piece of content that is not what the user sees. Back in the old days, it was done in extreme ways, like showing users adult content but showing the search engines G rated content.

At SMX Advanced yesterday, during the mobile panel, Gary Illyes confirmed what was known before that for many of the factors and ranking criteria around mobile, Google looks at the desktop version.

So technically, if you serve up a URL and on the desktop version you have content on that URL about Alice in Wonderland but you decide to serve up content on the mobile version of that URL about Payday Loans, you can and Google will rank the mobile version as if the page was about Alice in Wonderland.

Gary explained Google set up a spam team to investigate if these practices were going on and he was a bit surprised to see it was not going on. He said they have checked for over a year and currently, no one is really taking advantage of this.

Gary explained that it doesn’t mean that they won’t be able to take action on webmasters who do go this route. They still can apply manual actions and penalties when needed but they have not needed to yet.

This was one reason for Google to build a separate mobile index and not share the desktop index with the mobile index. Gary said Google has been experimenting with this but he does not know if Google will ever end up going with a separate mobile index. There are pros and cons to both methods.

But right now, the vast majority of signals your mobile site is seeing in the mobile search results are from the desktop crawl. This includes content, page-speed, links and all the factors with the exception of mobile user experience.

Gary said the next thing added to the mobile only factors will likely be interstitials ads as a negative factor and then looking at the speed of your mobile site versus your desktop site.

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