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We have a couple of desktop pages that don't have a corresponding mobile version (while the rest of the website does). How do I handle these desktop only pages for mobile devices? Which of the following approach works best from an SEO perspective?

  1. We 302 redirect all such desktop only links, to the mobile homepage
  2. We redirect all these URLs to one mobile version placeholder page that says "Coming soon". Is this a good idea? What should be the URL of this mobile page - should it be same as that of desktop?
  3. We show a custom 404 page.

I am open to other better alternatives which works best in this case.

  • You don't say what mobile strategy you are using. Is it responsive, dynamic serving, or separate mobile site? My answer would be different for a separate mobile site compared to the other two. – Stephen Ostermiller Jan 9 at 20:06
  • We are using a separate mobile site. We try to detect the user-agent from which the request is made and redirect to the Desktop or mobile site accordingly. – Alok Jan 10 at 6:38
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Set up dynamic serving based on user agent so you detect when mobile users request these pages. Then respond with a Vary HTTP header and a coming soon page if the user is on a mobile device, or the Vary HTTP header and the original page if the user uses a desktop pc.

You can also follow this suggestion and serve the coming soon page with a 503 error to indicate that the URL is valid, but when it comes to mobile users:

"The server is currently unable to handle the request due to a temporary overloading or maintenance of the server. The implication is that this is a temporary condition which will be alleviated after some delay."

This way you can keep your urls the same (assuming you do that already) and just serve different content depending on user-agent. You will also signal ISPs to take user agent into account when serving your content.

Listed options 1 and 3 are not good in my opinion. Content wise said pages may not be relevant to your homepage, so no reason to 3xx link them there, especially when users expect to see the content of the url they visit and not your homepage (with no information how and why they got redirect).

Lastly, you do not want a valid url (for desktop users) to be associated with a 404 error when mobile users try to reach the page.

  • If we serve a coming soon page for mobile devices, because of mobile-first indexing, won’t Google use mobile version of the content for indexing and ranking? How do we address this problem? – Alok Jan 9 at 7:54
  • @Alok you set up a user agent detection on your server so when desktop user requests your url you serve the one you have, but when mobile user requests same url you redirect to the coming soon page with 503 error to indicate the url is valid for mobile user, just unavailable for now. You also set up the vary http header to indicate dynamic serving to differentiate mobile and desktop responses. – Σπύρος Γούλας Jan 9 at 9:00
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There are three things to note, whether these couple of pages are ranked on mobile version or not... if yes, then I would suggest to create a mobile subdomain like m.example.com and then create a page with same URL as desktop and add impressive SEO content to that new page, but don’t copy, and then redirect the desktop version of that page to that mobile subdomain with simple redirection code given below (paste the code in head section or body and change the URL with your new page URL). That will be best suited.

<meta http-equiv=“refresh” content=“0; url=https://www.example.com”/>

And if the pages are not ranked then don't worry, just make new pages and redirect desktop pages to new mobile-friendly pages with same given redirection code.... Google allows redirects for ranking.

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You should never redirect URLs to your home page. From an SEO standpoint Google treats those the same as 404 Not Found errors. Google refers to home page redirects as "soft 404 errors". From a usability perspective, a home page redirect is much worse than a 404 error.

I would recommend showing your desktop site instead of your mobile site for those URLs. For those particular URLs you should:

  1. Not redirect mobile users away from the desktop site.
  2. Redirect mobile users away from the mobile site.
  3. Not link to those URLs anywhere on your mobile site.

In general, showing a desktop page on mobile is a better user experience than not allowing access to the content.

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