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I have a desktop site with loads of old Flash games on it. Since there wasn't any way of easily porting that to mobile, I have a completely different mobile site with a different set of HTML5 content options.

I've been through Google's documentation on mobile redirects (here: https://developers.google.com/webmasters/mobile-sites/mobile-seo/configurations/separate-urls) and it warns webmasters to maintain a 1:1 relative structure between the desktop site and the mobile site.

The thing is, that's not something we can do. The mobile site by definition must have very different content than the desktop site which has content that won't run on mobile.

So what are the best practices for mobile redirection? I'd like to just redirect all mobile traffic to the mobile homepage (as I can't really see any other option).

But Google cautions against exactly that:

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That above diagram of "what not to do" would seem to be "what I'm about to do", and I feel a bit strange preparing to implement exactly the thing they warn against doing. But I can't see any other options. Are there any special steps I should take to prevent that choice seeming like an error in terms of SEO?

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    It's a contrived workaround but couldn't you just have those pages mirrored but different content such as "sorry this doesn't work on mobiles click here to go to our mobile site" – Daniel Waters Sep 8 '15 at 20:24
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(More of a collection of thoughts, rather than "an answer", but anyway...)


You need to think about what is best for your users.

Redirecting multiple pages to the homepage is not recommended simply because it usually gives a bad experience for your users. They find themselves on a page that is unrelated to what they have searched for.

You should only redirect if you have something equivalent to redirect to.

I have a completely different mobile site

Maybe you have a completely different site. Period. If they are "completely different" then maybe they should not be marketed as "the same", but for different platforms?

I have a desktop site with loads of old Flash games on it.

Maybe you shouldn't be too hasty to discard Flash on mobile? There are several browsers available for both Android and iOS that do support Flash. If a user is determined to play Flash on their mobile device they can. If a user has searched for "old Flash games" on their mobile device then maybe they have a Flash-capable mobile device they want to play some old Flash games on? Being redirected in this instance could be annoying.

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    Well... if my original site had no traffic, then starting a brand new URL might be an option. But I've got significant traffic (200k+ monthly uniques) and awareness from my first site. As for Flash on mobile: While what you said is true, specifically Flash games on mobile almost never work. They're not designed for touch interfaces. There are some exceptions of course, but if you're going mobile, you really need to go with games written for mobile/touch. – Bangkokian Sep 9 '15 at 7:28
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Redirecting multiple pages to home page m.example.com - Bad Practice

The above is not at all recommended because this is considered as a soft 404 by google and hence would downgrade the seo performance of the pages. As google says redicrection from Page A to Page B should be meaningful i.e. the content is same only the site structure has changed and still the same content is getting served.

Having one to one mapping between desktop and mobile - Good Practice

Ideally you should have one to one mapping as in if a page exist on example.com it should ideally exists on m.example.com though the content might differ

Example : On desktop you might present flash games while on mobile it can be html5. Goolge won't penalize you for that. Rather this is recommended practice to make your mobile site lighter than desktop.

Also having one to one mapping i.e. a page A on mobile as well as desktop is important to let users on all device platforms access your site.

The main thing is that if Page A on Desktop is serving content A then on mobile also it should serve content A, the representation may be different , the content may be a sub part of what shown in desktop but it should have same meaning to the user/crawlers.

So you can make examle.com/pagen ---301 Redirect --> m.example.com/pagen on mobile

If you are planning to create 0,N pages on mobile out of N on desktop rather than complete set

In this case if you are planning to create a html game-a on mobile similar to desktop flash version, then an apple to apple redirect would be preferr ed:

So you can make examle.com/pagen ---301 Redirect --> m.example.com/pagen on mobile

Since the content does not exist at all on mobile, you can redirect that to home page

So you can make examle.com/pagen ---301 Redirect --> m.example.com on mobile

  • Yes. Obviously I understand the best practice as it was illustrated in my question Sorry, but this is a non answer. Rewriting hundreds of old Flash games from the past two decades in HTML5 is not a realistic option. – Bangkokian Jun 30 '16 at 16:42
  • You have mis-interpreted my answer, i have written you need to have similar content on both desktop and mobile, their representation might be different.. Example, if a game A is a flash on desktop, it can be a game a on mobile, since you said you are just changing platform for your games. – abhinsit Jul 1 '16 at 18:13
  • If the game all together does not exist then their is no point in creating or redirecting. My point was if you are creating similar game on mobile in html5 then do a apple to apple redirect rather than a home page redirect.I am adding more info to my answer – abhinsit Jul 1 '16 at 18:14

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