Today’s article is a two-for-one covering two possible Google Penalties that have come up in the past week; Image Mismatch and Responsive Design. Only of these items has an actual penalty associated with it so feel free to take a guess and then read on to check your answer.
- The use of responsive design carries no penalties and does not hurt your website in terms of SEO.
Matt Cutts, head of Google’s search spam team, regularly answers webmaster questions regarding SEO practices in a series of response videos. Last week he covered the ranking results of having a higher number of pages on your website. This week his video he was asked the question “Does a site leveraging responsive design ‘lose’ any SEO benefit compared to a more traditional m.site?”
For those not familiar with responsive design it is one of a couple different ways to have your website work well on desktops, tablets, and mobile applications simultaneously. Responsive design allows you to have one URL on a website that automatically adjusts its design to fit well on any application on which it is accessed. If you do not have a responsive design you can also set up a redirect (m.site) that sends visitors to a differently designed page depending on the type of device the visitor is using.
Cutts answers the question simply by answering no, there are no duplication problems associated with using responsive designs since the same url is being used in every situation. Responsive Designs do not have negative effects on SEO efforts. Similarly, neither does using a traditional redirect page, however, these redirect pages need to be set up correctly and Google has guidelines and best practices explaining the set up in detail. If the pages are not set up correctly the home url will not be linked to the mobile url and the ranking will be split between them.
- Image Mismatch is a new Wembaster Tools manual action penalty that carries negative SEO effects for your website.
Image Mismatch is when the images displayed on your website do not match the images that Google has indexed as is displaying in search results. Google will have human viewers manually add penalties to your website for violating the guideline.
Image mismatch has been compared to cloaking as webmasters are giving Google certain images to represent the site while displaying different ones on the actual webpage. The mismatch may also be due to the unintentional effects of anti-hot linking tools (used to discourage users from stealing your images) which may require you looking through the site’s code to fix the issue. To check if you have been flagged by Google for mismatching log on to your webmaster tools account. If you are an offender you see a notification under ‘Manual Actions’ that reads:
“This site may not perform as well in Google results because it appears to be in violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.”
Further down the page you see a reason listed for the manual action that states:
“Images from this site displayed differently on Google search results pages than they are when displayed on this site.”
If you see these notifications the next step you need to take is to run through your website’s code and eliminate any issues. Afterwards, submit your site for reconsideration and then patiently wait. You will receive a message in your webmaster tools account when Google has reviewed your site. If you are no longer in violation of Google’s guidelines the manual action will be revoked and there will no longer be a notifications under your manual actions tab in webmaster tools. Google has a complete help document available on the issue.
Hopefully you found the two-for-one article helpful, best of luck with your website. If you are interested in help from professionals with your SEO efforts visit here.