Webmasters

Supporting Smartphones and Feature Phones

Our recommendation for sites serving smartphone users is to use responsive web design if possible. However, since feature phones do not have the capability to follow CSS media queries, webmasters wishing to serve feature phones would need to configure their sites to either use dynamic serving or separate URLs to serve the feature phone content.

This page demonstrates how to implement each of these configurations.

Dynamic Serving

Configuring your server to dynamically serve feature phone optimized contents on the same URL that serves other devices uses the same implementation as when serving smartphones.

To summarize: The server should include the "Vary: User-Agent" HTTP response header, and you should also be aware of the common pitfalls when detecting user-agents

Separate URLs

Webmasters have three supported configurations when serving desktop, smartphone, and feature phone users on different URLs. These configurations use the annotations we've previously described for building feature phone and smartphone optimized sites.

Dedicated URLs configuration

In this configuration, the setup would be like this:

  • http://www.example.com/page-1 serves desktop users
  • http://m.example.com/page-1 serves smartphone users
  • http://phone.example.com/page-1 serves feature phone users

In this configuration, we recommend to add the following annotations to help our algorithms understand the relationship between the equivalent pages targeting different devices:

On www.example.com/page-1 add:

<link rel="alternate" media="only screen and (max-width: 640px)" href="http://m.example.com/page-1" />
<link rel="alternate" media="handheld" href="http://phone.example.com/page-1" />

On m.example.com/page-1 add:

<link rel="canonical" href="http://www.example.com/page-1" />

On phone.example.com/page-1 add:

<link rel="canonical" href="http://www.example.com/page-1" />

Desktop and all-mobile URLs configuration

In this configuration, a website would serve desktop devices on one URL and all mobiles, i.e. both smartphones and feature phones, on a separate URL. For example:

  • http://www.example.com/page-1 serves desktop users
  • http://m.example.com/page-1 serves both smartphone and feature phone users

In this case, the annotation on http://www.example.com/page-1 would be:

<link rel="alternate" media="only screen and (max-width: 640px)" href="http://m.example.com/page-1" />
<link rel="alternate" media="handheld" href="http://m.example.com/page-1" />

On the m.example.com site, include:

<link rel="canonical" href="http://www.example.com/page-1" />

This rel="canonical" needs to be included on all pages regardless if they are feature phone pages or smartphone pages.

The server should include the HTTP Vary: User-Agent header in its response. This sends a signal to Internet caches and Googlebot that the server's response may differ depending on the user-agent. Mobile Googlebot will use this signal for crawling.

Separate feature phone URLs configuration

In this configuration, a website serves desktops and smartphones on one URL using responsive web design or dynamic serving, and feature phones on a separate URL. For example:

  • http://www.example.com/page-1 serves desktop and smartphone users
  • http://m.example.com/page-1 serves feature phone users

In this case, the annotation on http://www.example.com/page-1 would be:

<link rel="alternate" media="handheld" href="http://m.example.com/page-1" />

And on http://m.example.com/page-1 would be:

<link rel="canonical" href="http://www.example.com/page-1" />

Note that if http://www.example.com/page-1 uses dynamic serving, it would need to follow our recommendations for this configuration.

Redirects and the HTTP Vary header

Please note that if your site automatically redirects mobile visitors coming to the desktop site to the mobile site, or vice versa, please be sure to configure your server to include the Vary HTTP header as described on this page.

Sitemaps

Our recommendations for using feature phone Sitemaps, and Sitemaps for smartphone alternate URLs remain unchanged.

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