Tag Archives: webmaster guidelines

Notifying users of unclear subscription pages

Every month, millions of Chrome users encounter pages with insufficient mobile subscription information. Surprising charges that come from unclear communication are a poor user experience. That’s why starting from Chrome 71 (December 2018), Chrome will show a warning before these pages, so that users can make informed decisions when signing up to mobile based subscription services. Users will be offered the choice to proceed to the page or go back if they were unaware that they were entering a billing page.

Unclear mobile subscriptions


Picture this: Andrea is browsing the web on a mobile connection to access a gaming page and they’re presented with a page that asks them for their mobile phone details.




They fill in the blanks with their mobile number and press Continue, and get access to the content.

The next month, the phone bill arrives and they see a charge they were not expecting. Was the subscription to the online gaming service really that expensive? Did they really agree to pay that specific price for the service? How much did they agree to be charged to access the content?

Clearer billing information for Chrome users


We want to make sure Chrome users understand when they are going through a billing flow and trust that they’ll be able to make informed decisions while browsing the web.

To adequately inform users, it’s important to provide a sufficient level of details within the billing page as outlined by our new mobile billing charges best practices. Pages that answer positively to the following questions generally provide sufficient information for users:
  • Is the billing information visible and obvious to users? For example, adding no subscription information on the subscription page or hiding the information is a bad start because users should have access to the information when agreeing to subscribe.
  • Can customers easily see the costs they’re going to incur before accepting the terms? For example, displaying the billing information in grey characters over a grey background, therefore making it less readable, is not considered a good user practice.
  • Is the fee structure easily understandable? For example, the formula presented to explain how the cost of the service will be determined should be as simple and straightforward as possible.

If Chrome detects pages that don’t provide sufficient billing information to users, the following warning will be displayed to the user on Chrome mobile, Chrome desktop and Android’s WebView:



The warning will be shown to users entering unclear billing pages.


When we identify such pages, we will notify the webmaster through Search Console where there will be an option to let us know about the changes they’ve made to clarify the billing process. For websites that aren’t verified on Search Console, we will do our best to get in touch with the webmasters affected and will be available to answer questions in our public support forum available in 15 languages. Once an appeal has been sent via Search Console, we will review the changes and remove the warning accordingly.

If your billing service takes users through a clearly visible and understandable billing process as described in our best practices, you don't need to make any changes. Also, the new warning in Chrome doesn’t impact your website’s ranking in Google Search.

If you have any questions, please come and have a chat with us in the Webmaster Help Forum.


Posted by Emily Schechter‎, Chrome Security, Giacomo Gnecchi Ruscone & Badr Salmi El Idrissi, Trust & Safety

How we fought webspam – Webspam Report 2017





We always want to make sure that when you use Google Search to find information, you get the highest quality results. But, we are aware of many bad actors who are trying to manipulate search ranking and profit from it, which is at odds with our core mission: to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. Over the years, we've devoted a huge effort toward combating abuse and spam on Search. Here's a look at how we fought abuse in 2017.


We call these various types of abuse that violate the webmaster guidelines “spam.” Our evaluation indicated that for many years, less than 1 percent of search results users visited are spammy. In the last couple of years, we’ve managed to further reduce this by half.



Google webspam trends and how we fought webspam in 2017



As we continued to improve, spammers also evolved. One of the trends in 2017 was an increase in website hacking—both for spamming search ranking and for spreading malware. Hacked websites are serious threats to users because hackers can take complete control of a site, deface homepages, erase relevant content, or insert malware and harmful code. They may also record keystrokes, stealing login credentials for online banking or financial transactions. In 2017 we focused on reducing this threat, and were able to detect and remove from search results more than 80 percent of these sites. But hacking is not just a spam problem for search users—it affects the owners of websites as well. To help website owners keep their websites safe, we created a hands-on resource to help webmasters strengthen their websites’ security and revamped our help resources to help webmasters recover from a hacked website. The guides are available in 19 languages.

We’re also recognizing the importance of robust content management systems (CMSs). A large percentage of websites are run on one of several popular CMSs, and subsequently spammers exploited them by finding ways to abuse their provisions for user-generated content, such as posting spam content in comment sections or forums. We’re working closely with many of the providers of popular content management systems like WordPress and Joomla to help them also fight spammers that abuse their forums, comment sections and websites.


Another abuse vector is the manipulation of links, which is one of the foundation ranking signals for Search. In 2017 we doubled down our effort in removing unnatural links via ranking improvements and scalable manual actions. We have observed a year-over-year reduction of spam links by almost half.


Working with users and webmasters for a better web



We’re here to listen: Our automated systems are constantly working to detect and block spam. Still, we always welcome hearing from you when something seems … phishy. Last year, we were able to take action on nearly 90,000 user reports of search spam.


Reporting spam, malware and other issues you find helps us protect the site owner and other searchers from this abuse. You can file a spam report, a phishing report or a malware report. We very much appreciate these reports—a big THANK YOU to all of you who submitted them.


We also actively work with webmasters to maintain the health of the web ecosystem. Last year, we sent 45 million messages to registered website owners via Search Console letting them know about issues we identified with their websites. More than 6 million of these messages are related to manual actions, providing transparency to webmasters so they understand why their sites got manual actions and how to resolve the issue.

Last year, we released a beta version of a new Search Console to a limited number of users and afterwards, to all users of Search Console. We listened to what matters most to the users, and started with popular functionalities such as Search performance, Index Coverage and others. These can help webmasters optimize their websites' Google Search presence more easily.

Through enhanced Safe Browsing protections, we continue to protect more users from bad actors online. In the last year, we have made significant improvements to our safe browsing protection, such as broadening our protection of macOS devices, enabling predictive phishing protection in Chrome, cracked down on mobile unwanted software, and launched significant improvements to our ability to protect users from deceptive Chrome extension installation.


We have a multitude of channels to engage directly with webmasters. We have dedicated team members who meet with webmasters regularly both online and in-person. We conducted more than 250 online office hours, online events and offline events around the world in more than 60 cities to audiences totaling over 220,000 website owners, webmasters and digital marketers. In addition, our official support forum has answered a high volume of questions in many languages. Last year, the forum had 63,000 threads generating over 280,000 contributing posts by 100+ Top Contributors globally. For more details, see this post. Apart from the forums, blogs and the SEO starter guide, the Google Webmaster YouTube channel is another channel to find more tips and insights. We launched a new SEO snippets video series to help with short and to-the-point answers to specific questions. Be sure to subscribe to the channel!


Despite all these improvements, we know we’re not yet done. We’re relentless in our pursue of an abuse-free user experience, and will keep improving our collaboration with the ecosystem to make it happen.



Posted by Cody Kwok, Principal Engineer

How we fought webspam – Webspam Report 2017





We always want to make sure that when you use Google Search to find information, you get the highest quality results. But, we are aware of many bad actors who are trying to manipulate search ranking and profit from it, which is at odds with our core mission: to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. Over the years, we've devoted a huge effort toward combating abuse and spam on Search. Here's a look at how we fought abuse in 2017.


We call these various types of abuse that violate the webmaster guidelines “spam.” Our evaluation indicated that for many years, less than 1 percent of search results users visited are spammy. In the last couple of years, we’ve managed to further reduce this by half.



Google webspam trends and how we fought webspam in 2017



As we continued to improve, spammers also evolved. One of the trends in 2017 was an increase in website hacking—both for spamming search ranking and for spreading malware. Hacked websites are serious threats to users because hackers can take complete control of a site, deface homepages, erase relevant content, or insert malware and harmful code. They may also record keystrokes, stealing login credentials for online banking or financial transactions. In 2017 we focused on reducing this threat, and were able to detect and remove from search results more than 80 percent of these sites. But hacking is not just a spam problem for search users—it affects the owners of websites as well. To help website owners keep their websites safe, we created a hands-on resource to help webmasters strengthen their websites’ security and revamped our help resources to help webmasters recover from a hacked website. The guides are available in 19 languages.

We’re also recognizing the importance of robust content management systems (CMSs). A large percentage of websites are run on one of several popular CMSs, and subsequently spammers exploited them by finding ways to abuse their provisions for user-generated content, such as posting spam content in comment sections or forums. We’re working closely with many of the providers of popular content management systems like WordPress and Joomla to help them also fight spammers that abuse their forums, comment sections and websites.


Another abuse vector is the manipulation of links, which is one of the foundation ranking signals for Search. In 2017 we doubled down our effort in removing unnatural links via ranking improvements and scalable manual actions. We have observed a year-over-year reduction of spam links by almost half.


Working with users and webmasters for a better web



We’re here to listen: Our automated systems are constantly working to detect and block spam. Still, we always welcome hearing from you when something seems … phishy. Last year, we were able to take action on nearly 90,000 user reports of search spam.


Reporting spam, malware and other issues you find helps us protect the site owner and other searchers from this abuse. You can file a spam report, a phishing report or a malware report. We very much appreciate these reports—a big THANK YOU to all of you who submitted them.


We also actively work with webmasters to maintain the health of the web ecosystem. Last year, we sent 45 million messages to registered website owners via Search Console letting them know about issues we identified with their websites. More than 6 million of these messages are related to manual actions, providing transparency to webmasters so they understand why their sites got manual actions and how to resolve the issue.

Last year, we released a beta version of a new Search Console to a limited number of users and afterwards, to all users of Search Console. We listened to what matters most to the users, and started with popular functionalities such as Search performance, Index Coverage and others. These can help webmasters optimize their websites' Google Search presence more easily.

Through enhanced Safe Browsing protections, we continue to protect more users from bad actors online. In the last year, we have made significant improvements to our safe browsing protection, such as broadening our protection of macOS devices, enabling predictive phishing protection in Chrome, cracked down on mobile unwanted software, and launched significant improvements to our ability to protect users from deceptive Chrome extension installation.


We have a multitude of channels to engage directly with webmasters. We have dedicated team members who meet with webmasters regularly both online and in-person. We conducted more than 250 online office hours, online events and offline events around the world in more than 60 cities to audiences totaling over 220,000 website owners, webmasters and digital marketers. In addition, our official support forum has answered a high volume of questions in many languages. Last year, the forum had 63,000 threads generating over 280,000 contributing posts by 100+ Top Contributors globally. For more details, see this post. Apart from the forums, blogs and the SEO starter guide, the Google Webmaster YouTube channel is another channel to find more tips and insights. We launched a new SEO snippets video series to help with short and to-the-point answers to specific questions. Be sure to subscribe to the channel!


Despite all these improvements, we know we’re not yet done. We’re relentless in our pursue of an abuse-free user experience, and will keep improving our collaboration with the ecosystem to make it happen.



Posted by Cody Kwok, Principal Engineer

Our goal: helping webmasters and content creators

Great websites are the result of the hard work of website owners who make their content and services accessible to the world. Even though it’s simpler now to run a website than it was years ago, it can still feel like a complex undertaking. This is why we invest a lot of time and effort in improving Google Search so that website owners can spend more time focusing on building the most useful content for their users, while we take care of helping users find that content. 

Most website owners find they don’t have to worry much about what Google is doing—they post their content, and then Googlebot discovers, crawls, indexes and understands that content, to point users to relevant pages on those sites. However, sometimes the technical details still matter, and sometimes a great deal.

For those times when site owners would like a bit of help from someone at Google, or an explanation for why something works a particular way, or why things appear in a particular way, or how to fix what looks like a technical glitch, we have a global team dedicated to making sure there are many places for a website owner to get help from Google and knowledgeable members of the community.

The first place to start for help is Google Webmasters, a place where all of our support resources (many of which are available in 40 languages) are within easy reach:

Our second path to getting help is through our Google Webmaster Central Help Forums. We have forums in 16 languages—in English, Spanish, Hindi, French, Italian, Portuguese, Japanese, German, Russian, Turkish, Polish, Bahasa Indonesia, Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese and Korean. The forums are staffed with dedicated Googlers who are there to make sure your questions get answered. Aside from the Googlers who monitor the forums, there is an amazing group of Product Experts who generously offer their time to help other members of the community—many times providing greater detail and analysis for a particular website’s content than we could. The forums allow for both a public discussion and, if the case requires it, for private follow-up replies in the forum.

A third path for support to website owners is our series of Online Webmaster Office Hours — in English, German, Japanese, Turkish, Hindi and French. Anyone who joins these is welcome to ask us questions about website appearance in Google Search, which we will answer to the best of our abilities. All of our team members think that one of the best parts of speaking at conferences and events is the opportunity to answer questions from the audience,  and the online office hours format creates that opportunity for many more people who might not be able to travel to a specialized event. You can always check out the Google Webmaster calendar for upcoming webmaster officer hours and live events.

While how a website behaves on the web is openly visible to all who can see it, we know that some website owners prefer not to make it known their website has a problem in a public forum. There’s no shame in asking for support, but if you have an issue for your website that seems sensitive—for which you don’t think you can share all the details publicly—you can call out that you would prefer to share necessary details only with someone experienced and who is willing to help, using the forum’s “Private Reply” feature.

Are there other things you think we should be doing that would help your website get the most out of search? Please let us know -- in our forums, our office hours, or via Twitter @googlewmc.

Posted by Juan Felipe Rincón from Google’s Webmaster Outreach & Support team

Send your recipes to the Google Assistant

Last year, we launched Google Home with recipe guidance, providing users with step-by-step instructions for cooking recipes. With more people using Google Home every day, we're publishing new guidelines so your recipes can support this voice guided experience. You may receive traffic from more sources, since users can now discover your recipes through the Google Assistant on Google Home. The updated structured data properties provide users with more information about your recipe, resulting in higher quality traffic to your site.

Updated recipe properties to help users find your recipes

We updated our recipe developer documentation to help users find your recipes and experience them with Google Search and the Google Assistant on Google Home. This will enable more potential traffic to your site. To ensure that users can access your recipe in more ways, we need more information about your recipe. We now recommend the following properties:

  • Videos: Show users how to make the dish by adding a video array
  • Category: Tell users the type of meal or course of the dish (for example, "dinner", "dessert", "entree")
  • Cuisine: Specify the region associated with your recipe (for example, "Mediterranean", "American", "Cantonese")
  • Keywords: Add other terms for your recipe such as the season ("summer"), the holiday ("Halloween", "Diwali"), the special event ("wedding", "birthday"), or other descriptors ("quick", "budget", "authentic")

We also added more guidance for recipeInstructions. You can specify each step of the recipe with the HowToStep property, and sections of steps with the HowToSection property.

Add recipe instructions and ingredients for the Google Assistant

We now require the recipeIngredient and recipeInstructions properties if you want to support the Google Assistant on Google Home. Adding these properties can make your recipe eligible for integration with the Google Assistant, enabling more users to discover your recipes. If your recipe doesn't have these properties, it won't be eligible for guidance with the Google Assistant, but it can still be eligible to appear in Search results.

For more information, visit our Recipe developer documentation. If you have questions about the feature, please ask us in the Webmaster Help Forum.

We updated our job posting guidelines

Last year, we launched job search on Google to connect more people with jobs. When you provide Job Posting structured data, it helps drive more relevant traffic to your page by connecting job seekers with your content. To ensure that job seekers are getting the best possible experience, it's important to follow our Job Posting guidelines.

We've recently made some changes to our Job Posting guidelines to help improve the job seeker experience.

  • Remove expired jobs
  • Place structured data on the job's detail page
  • Make sure all job details are present in the job description

Remove expired jobs

When job seekers put in effort to find a job and apply, it can be very discouraging to discover that the job that they wanted is no longer available. Sometimes, job seekers only discover that the job posting is expired after deciding to apply for the job. Removing expired jobs from your site may drive more traffic because job seekers are more confident when jobs that they visit on your site are still open for application. For more information on how to remove a job posting, see Remove a job posting.


Place structured data on the job's detail page

Job seekers find it confusing when they land on a list of jobs instead of the specific job's detail page. To fix this, put structured data on the most detailed leaf page possible. Don't add structured data to pages intended to present a list of jobs (for example, search result pages) and only add it to the most specific page describing a single job with its relevant details.

Make sure all job details are present in the job description

We've also noticed that some sites include information in the JobPosting structured data that is not present anywhere in the job posting. Job seekers are confused when the job details they see in Google Search don't match the job description page. Make sure that the information in the JobPosting structured data always matches what's on the job posting page. Here are some examples:

  • If you add salary information to the structured data, then also add it to the job posting. Both salary figures should match.
  • The location in the structured data should match the location in the job posting.

Providing structured data content that is consistent with the content of the job posting pages not only helps job seekers find the exact job that they were looking for, but may also drive more relevant traffic to your job postings and therefore increase the chances of finding the right candidates for your jobs.

If your site violates the Job Posting guidelines (including the guidelines in this blog post), we may take manual action against your site and it may not be eligible for display in the jobs experience on Google Search. You can submit a reconsideration request to let us know that you have fixed the problem(s) identified in the manual action notification. If your request is approved, the manual action will be removed from your site or page.

For more information, visit our Job Posting developer documentation and our JobPosting FAQ.

Protect your site from user generated spam

As a website owner, you might have come across some auto-generated content in comments sections or forum threads. When such content is created on your pages, not only does it disrupt those visiting your site, but it also shows some content that you may not want to be associated with your site to Google and other search engines.


In this blog post, we will give you tips to help you deal with this type of spam in your site and forum.


Some spammers abuse sites owned by others by posting deceiving content and links, in an attempt to get more traffic to their sites. Here are a few examples:


Comments and forum threads can be a really good source of information and an efficient way of engaging a site's users in discussions. This valuable content should not be buried by auto-generated keywords and links placed there by spammers.


There are many ways of securing your site’s forums and comment threads and making them unattractive to spammers:


  • Keep your forum software updated and patched. Take the time to keep your software up-to-date and pay special attention to important security updates. Spammers take advantage of security issues in older versions of blogs, bulletin boards, and other content management systems.

  • Add a CAPTCHA. CAPTCHAs require users to confirm that they are not robots in order to prove they're a human being and not an automated script. One way to do this is to use a service like reCAPTCHA, Securimage and  Jcaptcha .
  • Block suspicious behavior. Many forums allow you to set time limits between posts, and you can often find plugins to look for excessive traffic from individual IP addresses or proxies and other activity more common to bots than human beings. For example, phpBB, Simple Machines, myBB, and many other forum platforms enable such configurations.

  • Check your forum’s top posters on a daily basis. If a user joined recently and has an excessive amount of posts, then you probably should review their profile and make sure that their posts and threads are not spammy.

  • Consider disabling some types of comments. For example, It’s a good practice to close some very old forum threads that are unlikely to get legitimate replies.
    If you plan on not monitoring your forum going forward and users are no longer interacting with it, turning off posting completely may prevent spammers from abusing it.

  • Make good use of moderation capabilities. Consider enabling features in moderation that require users to have a certain reputation before links can be posted or where comments with links require moderation.
    If possible, change your settings so that you disallow anonymous posting and make posts from new users require approval before they're publicly visible.
    Moderators, together with your friends/colleagues and some other trusted users can help you review and approve posts while spreading the workload. Keep an eye on your forum's new users by looking on their posts and activities on your forum.  

  • Consider blacklisting obviously spammy terms. Block obviously inappropriate comments with a blacklist of spammy terms (e.g. Illegal streaming or pharma related terms) . Add inappropriate and off-topic terms that are only used by spammers, learn from the spam posts that you often see on your forum or other forums. Built-in features or plugins can delete or mark comments as spam for you.

  • Use the "nofollow" attribute for links in the comment field. This will deter spammers from targeting your site. By default, many blogging sites (such as Blogger) automatically add this attribute to any posted comments.

  • Use automated systems to defend your site.  Comprehensive systems like Akismet, which has plugins for many blogs and forum systems are easy to install and do most of the work for you.




For detailed information about these topics, check out our Help Center document on User Generated Spam and comment spam. You can also visit our Webmaster Central Help Forum if you need any help.



A reminder about widget links

Google has long taken a strong stance against links that manipulate a site’s PageRank. Today we would like to reiterate our policy on the creation of keyword-rich, hidden or low-quality links embedded in widgets that are distributed across various sites.

Widgets can help website owners enrich the experience of their site and engage users. However, some widgets add links to a site that a webmaster did not editorially place and contain anchor text that the webmaster does not control. Because these links are not naturally placed, they're considered a violation of Google Webmaster Guidelines.

Below you can find the examples of widgets which contain links that violate Google Webmaster Guidelines:



Google's webspam team may take manual actions on unnatural links. When a manual action is taken, Google will notify the site owners through Search Console. If you receive such a warning for unnatural links to your site and you use links in widgets to promote your site, we recommend resolving these issues and requesting reconsideration.

You can resolve issues with unnatural links by making sure they don't pass PageRank. To do this, add a rel="nofollow" attribute on the widget links or remove the links entirely. After fixing or removing widget links and any other unnatural links to your site, let Google know about your change by submitting a reconsideration request in Search Console. Once the request has been reviewed, you'll get a notification about whether the reconsideration request was successful or not.

Also, we would like to remind webmasters who use widgets on their sites to check those widgets for any unnatural links. Add a rel="nofollow" attribute on those unnatural links or remove the links entirely from the widget.

For more information, please watch our video about widget links and refer to our Webmaster Guidelines on Link Schemes. Additionally, feel free to ask questions in our Webmaster Help Forums, where a community of webmasters can help with their experience.


Best practices for bloggers reviewing free products they receive from companies

As a form of online marketing, some companies today will send bloggers free products to review or give away in return for a mention in a blogpost. Whether you’re the company supplying the product or the blogger writing the post, below are a few best practices to ensure that this content is both useful to users and compliant with Google Webmaster Guidelines.

  1. Use the nofollow tag where appropriate

    Links that pass PageRank in exchange for goods or services are against Google guidelines on link schemes. Companies sometimes urge bloggers to link back to:
    1. the company’s site
    2. the company’s social media accounts
    3. an online merchant’s page that sells the product
    4. a review service’s page featuring reviews of the product
    5. the company’s mobile app on an app store
    Bloggers should use the nofollow tag on all such links because these links didn’t come about organically (i.e., the links wouldn’t exist if the company hadn’t offered to provide a free good or service in exchange for a link). Companies, or the marketing firms they’re working with, can do their part by reminding bloggers to use nofollow on these links.
  2. Disclose the relationship

    Users want to know when they’re viewing sponsored content. Also, there are laws in some countries that make disclosure of sponsorship mandatory. A disclosure can appear anywhere in the post; however, the most useful placement is at the top in case users don’t read the entire post.
  3. Create compelling, unique content

    The most successful blogs offer their visitors a compelling reason to come back. If you're a blogger you might try to become the go-to source of information in your topic area, cover a useful niche that few others are looking at, or provide exclusive content that only you can create due to your unique expertise or resources.

For more information, please drop by our Google Webmaster Central Help Forum.

Detect and get rid of unwanted sneaky mobile redirects

In many cases, it is OK to show slightly different content on different devices. For example, optimizing the smaller space of a smartphone screen can mean that some content, like images, will have to be modified. Or you might want to store your website’s menu in a navigation drawer (find documentation here) to make mobile browsing easier and more effective. When implemented properly, these user-centric modifications can be understood very well by Google.

The situation is similar when it comes to mobile-only redirect. Redirecting mobile users to improve their mobile experience (like redirecting mobile users from example.com/url1 to m.example.com/url1) is often beneficial to them. But redirecting mobile users sneakily to a different content is bad for user experience and is against Google’s webmaster guidelines.


A frustrating experience: The same URL shows up in search results pages on desktop and on mobile. When a user clicks on this result on their desktop computer, the URL opens normally. However, when clicking on the same result on a smartphone, a redirect happens and an unrelated URL loads.

Who implements these mobile-only sneaky redirects?

There are cases where webmasters knowingly decide to put into place redirection rules for their mobile users. This is typically a webmaster guidelines violation, and we do take manual action against it when it harms Google users’ experience (see last section of this article).   

But we’ve also observed situations where mobile-only sneaky redirects happen without site owners being aware of it:

  • Advertising schemes that redirect mobile users specifically
    A script/element installed to display ads and monetize content might be redirecting mobile users to a completely different site without the webmaster being aware of it.
  • Mobile redirect as a result of the site being a target of hacking
    In other cases, if your website has been hacked, a potential result can be redirects to spammy domains for mobile users only.

How do I detect if my site is doing sneaky mobile redirects?

  1. Check if you are redirected when you navigate to your site on your smartphone
    We recommend you to check the mobile user experience of your site by visiting your pages from Google search results with a smartphone. When debugging, mobile emulation in desktop browsers is handy, mostly because you can test for many different devices. You can, for example, do it straight from your browser in Chrome, Firefox or Safari (for the latter, make sure you have enabled the “Show Develop menu in menu bar” feature).
  1. Listen to your users
    Your users could see your site in a different way than you do. It’s always important to pay attention to user complaints, so you can hear of any issue related to mobile UX.
  2. Monitor your users in your site’s analytics data
    Unusual mobile user activity could be detected by looking at some of the data held in your website's analytics data. For example, looking at the average time spent on your site by your mobile users could be a good signal to watch: if all of a sudden, your mobile users (and only them) start spending much less time on your site than they used to, there might be an issue related to mobile redirections.

    To be aware of wide changes in mobile user activity as soon as they happen, you can for example set up Google Analytics alerts. For example, you can set an alert to be warned in case of a sharp drop in average time spent on your site by mobile users, or a drop in mobile users (always take into account that big changes in those metrics are not a clear, direct signal that your site is doing mobile sneaky redirects).

I’ve detected sneaky redirects for my mobile users, and I did not set it up: what do I do?

  1. Make sure that your site is not hacked.
    Check the Security Issues tool in the Search Console, if we have noticed any hack, you should get some information there.
    Review our additional resources on typical symptoms of hacked sites, and our case studies on hacked sites.
  2. Audit third-party scripts/elements on your site
    If your site is not hacked, then we recommend you take the time to investigate if third-party scripts/elements are causing the redirects. You can follow these steps:
    A. Remove one by one the third-party scripts/elements you do not control from the redirecting page(s).
    B. Check your site on a mobile device or through emulation between each script/element removal, and see when the redirect stops.
    C. If you think a particular script/element is responsible for the sneaky redirect, consider removing it from your site, and debugging the issue with the script/element provider.

Last Thoughts on Sneaky Mobile Redirects

It's a violation of the Google Webmaster Guidelines to redirect a user to a page with the intent of displaying content other than what was made available to the search engine crawler (more information on sneaky redirects). To ensure quality search results for our users, the Google Search Quality team can take action on such sites, including removal of URLs from our index.  When we take manual action, we send a message to the site owner via Search Console. Therefore, make sure you’ve set up a Search Console account.

Be sure to choose advertisers who are transparent on how they handle user traffic, to avoid unknowingly redirecting your own users. If you are interested in trust-building in the online advertising space, you may check out industry-wide best practices when participating in ad networks. For example, the Trustworthy Accountability Group’s (Interactive Advertising Bureau) Inventory Quality Guidelines are a good place to start. There are many ways to monetize your content with mobile solutions that provide a high quality user experience, be sure to use them.

If you have questions or comments about mobile-only redirects, join us in our Google Webmaster Support forum.