Relevance of the Googlebot and Mobile Content

Website owners cannot or should not ignore mobile as a powerful organic marketing channel. To leverage it to the best possible extent, it is necessary to structure a business site in a suitable and optimum manner for mobile phones so as the target audience is able to engage in best possible manner, and feels encouraged to purchase your products or services.

Rendering normal desktop webpages and those on mobile

To begin with, one must differentiate between traditional mobile phones (those with browsers, which are unable to render your normal desktop webpages. This will broadly include browsers for WML, WAP, cHTML- iMode and the like) and smartphones with browsers, which can easily render normal desktop pages, to varying extent. This includes devices like Windows Phone 7, iPhones, Android phones, and Blackberry devices, as well as eBook readers and tablets. This category can further be broken down in terms of support for HTML5 – those with browsers supporting HTML5 and with browsers not supporting HTML5

Previously, mobiles could connect to the net via browsers that had a very limited rendering capability. This scenario is fast changing with the advent of smartphones. Their browsers can offer the full desktop experience. Of course, changes will keep taking place and so also the capabilities of the new-age devices in the future.

Googlebot and Mobile Content

Now let try to us put Googlebot and Mobile Content in perspective. Google’s two crawlers relevant here are Googlebot and Googlebot-Mobile. The former is known to crawling desktop-browser type of pages and content embedded within. On the other hand, Googlebot-Mobile is for crawling mobile content.

Considering the diverse range of capabilities that mobile web browsers have, what kind of content should be served to Googlebot-Mobile, is the issue you need to address. The ready answer lies in the User-agent Googlebot-Mobile supplies while crawling.

Googlebot-Mobile seen just as any other ‘unknown’ User-agent

The content to be provided to the User-agent, which Googlebot-Mobile utilizes for indexing, can well vary according to the various strings in usage, all formatted in the manner below:

Several User-agent strings that are there in use by Googlebot-Mobile use the format below:

[Cellphone name(s)] (compatible; Googlebot-Mobile/2.1; +http://www.google.com/bot.html)

To work out as which content to serve, first assess which type your site has to best serve the phones in the User-agent string. You may crosscheck the list of Googlebot-Mobile User-agents on the Google Webmaster site.

The list of cellphones is rather limited, since Googlebot-Mobile doesn’t crawl with a smartphone User-agent string. As a result, generic version is preferable for a majority of mobile phone displays.  Ultimately, the decision will rest on how you can serve your existing base of users to the best possible extent keeping in mind the type of devices they use in majority.