Mobile Website Versions and Duplicate Content

Mobile market is fast growing and the amount of mobile internet users is constantly growing. Website owners can not forget about mobile device users and thats why many webmasters create special versions of their websites visible only to mobile devices in order to captivate more clients and get their share of the mobile market.

The requirements for mobile websites are different than standard internet websites. The mobile version should be as small in code and text as possible to enable fast browsing for mobile device users. But the main thing, the content, remains the same for both, normal internet and mobile internet users.

In most cases search engines can detect and distinguish the difference between mobile versions of websites and standard versions due to difference in websites code construction and different programming approach.

Should you put “noindex, nofollow” tags on mobile versions of your website?

Yes and no. Yes, because that will definetely remove the treat of duplicate content issue that might arise on your website and no, because that way you will loose many potential mobile visitors from search engines.

There are many search engines dedicated to mobile internet and all major search engines allow browsing only mobile websites. They have separate indexes for mobile versions of websites and separate algorithms to rank those pages.

Google – http://www.google.com/mobile/

Yahoo! – http://intl.m.yahoo.com/

MSN – http://mobile.msn.com/

If your website aims at mobile device users you should not put the “noindex, nofollow” meta tags on mobile versions of your website.

Search engines are getting better in clasifying websites as for standard users and mobile device users and most of the times they do not treat those two versions as duplicate content. Its similar situation to RSS feeds. RSS feed is also a different way to present the same portions of information in different way (through the RSS feed aggregator) and search engines do not treat that as duplicate content.

Conclusion

If you want to be 100% sure that your website will not experience the duplicate content related penalties you should disallow search engine robots from indexing your mobile version of website either through robots.txt file or “noindex, nofollow” meta tgas.

But in most cases I would recommend to let search engines to index both versions of your website as search engines are doing already a good job to differ those two versions and should not pose a possible duplicate content treat to your website. You also may potentially gain new visitors to your website through mobile version of your website.