Google’s John Mueller said on YouTube that there you might get unstable rankings if you use an m-dot domain for your mobile web pages (for example m.domain.com). Although Google won’t drop support for m-dot domains, John Mueller recommends to use other ways to present your mobile pages.
Your m-dot domain can be shown in the desktop results
As Google has shifted to mobile-first indexing, your m-dot domains might appear in the search results for desktop computers, even if the pages haven’t been optimized for desktop browsers:
“One of the things that is worth mentioning is that, especially with the shift to mobile first indexing, if you have a separate m-dot site it’s more likely that […] we might show your m-dot version in the normal desktop search results.
Often that’s due to an inconsistent linking between the mobile and the desktop version where we can’t map that exactly. Sometimes it’s just a matter of the way that we crawl and index pages.
Maybe we’ll pick up one version first and we’ll see the canonical and we’ll stick with the m-dot version because [that’s] the one that we would choose as canonical there and we would show that.
So from from our point of view: with an m-dot site with mobile first indexing it’s more likely that you would see the m-dot version in the desktop search results because of that.”
Redirect desktop users from your m-dot website
John Mueller recommends to redirect desktop users from the m-dot site to your regular website if you don’t want to see desktop users on your m-dot website:
“What I would do is make sure that you redirect desktop users from the m-dot site to the appropriate desktop site [..] catch it on your end rather than rely on Google showing the appropriate URL.
This is a bit similar to the situation before mobile-first indexing where sometimes we would show desktop URLs for an m-dot site on mobile and, essentially, it has just shifted around here.”
Google doesn’t really care
Although there are websites that don’t want to be listed with an m-dot website in Google’s desktop results, this is not a big issue for Google:
“This is something from from the mobile-first indexing team. I talked with them about this earlier today and from their point of view, we do try to catch this as much as we can but we can’t catch it completely. At the moment we’re thinking that this is probably something that over time will become less of an issue anyway because people will redirect and more and more people are using mobile anyway to search.
It’s something where we would expect that, potentially, if you have an m-dot site this will remain in an unstable situation.”
Google recommends responsive websites
“Of course, the the best way to handle it, or rather the easiest way to handle it, would be to use a responsive site. Or you choose dynamic serving where you just have a single URL where you don’t have all of these differences between the m-dot and the desktop version.
Every time you you have a separate mobile version or a separate version of the site, again, it just makes everything a little bit more complicated. It’s not that we will stop our support for m-dot versions it’s just that if you have this set up and we’ve shifted to mobile-first indexing […] then it’s possible that you will see this.”
You can view the video here:
Optimize your web pages for Google’s mobile search results
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