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I have a website https://example.com which is responsive but it came a time where it displays too much text. So I decided to create a progressive web application version and would like to deploy it lets say in https://m.example.com.

I would like to redirect all my mobile users to https://m.example.com if they access https://example.com. Since Google doesn't like cloaking, will I get penalized for doing this?

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Having a mobile subdomain and redirecting users there is absolutely fine with Google. Google maintains a guide for setting up your mobile site. In it Google says they support three types of mobile sites:

  • Responsive web design - One site where the content resizes itself to fit the screen
  • Dynamic serving - One site where the server detects the device type and serves differently formatted pages
  • Separate URLs - Different pages for mobile and desktop with redirects between them.

Google says that the "separate URLs" solution is sometimes called an "m-dot site" because a common way of implementing it is to have the mobile site on the subdomain m.example.com. What you are proposing is fully supported by Google.

Google also has a page about cloaking. Cloaking is serving different content or different redirects to visitors than to Googlebot. It is easy to avoid cloaking with a mobile subdomain. Googlebot crawls with both mobile and desktop variant user agents:

  • Desktop: Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Googlebot/2.1; +http://www.google.com/bot.html)
  • Mobile: Mozilla/5.0 (Linux; Android 6.0.1; Nexus 5X Build/MMB29P) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/41.0.2272.96 Mobile Safari/537.36 (compatible; Googlebot/2.1; +http://www.google.com/bot.html)

You should treat Googlebot just like any other visitor: redirect the Googlebot variant that looks like a mobile phone (Android) to the mobile site and redirect regular Googlebot to the desktop site.

Every page on your desktop site should redirect to the same content on the mobile site and vice-versa. You should never redirect deep pages to the mobile home page.

When implemented properly, there is no risk of cloaking when redirecting to a mobile subdomain.

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Yes you will get penalized. As per this page in Google's developers guide

If your site has separate desktop and mobile content, which means you have a dynamic serving or separate URLs (or m-dot) site[...]

Your mobile site should contain the same content as your desktop site. If your mobile site has less content than your desktop site, you should consider updating your mobile site so that its primary content is equivalent with your desktop site. This includes text, images (with alt-attributes), and videos – in the usual crawlable and indexable formats.

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