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February 22, 2013

Introducing: The Mobile Redirect Viewer

Mobile Redirect Viewer Icon

I’m thrilled to share today a new web app we’re releasing from the lab to help marketers optimize their mobile site performance! We call it the Mobile Redirect Viewer

This post answers questions about the Viewer – why we made it, how it works, how to use it effectively, and a few fun things to see!

What’s The Mobile Redirect Viewer?

It’s a new type of header checking tool – re-imagined for mobile! It’s designed to reveal how a site redirects traffic, based on mobile user-agents, and features modern mobile technology:

  • An AJAX engine makes automated server requests (one for each mobile user-agent), asynchronously processing the redirect transcripts for each
  • Responsively Designed JQuery and CSS organize results into dedicated tabs, fluidly adjusting the Viewer display for smartphone, tablet, and desktop browsers
  • Bookmarklets provide API-like access for running deep-link queries from any web page and viewing results remotely – no typing, no copying, no pasting
In short, it’s an app built by mobile practitioners, for mobile practitioners. It’s now available in our mobile Diagnostic Toolkit. And it’s free.

Mobile Redirect Viewer and Header Checking Tool

Why We Made The Viewer

Like many of you, we’ve relied on traditional header checking sites/tools for years to see how sites configure redirects and response codes. But mobile sites present new challenges:

  • Large sites often redirect mobile visitors from desktop pages to mobile pages by matching user-agent strings (e.g., iPhone, Android). Detecting the exact settings are outside the scope of most header checkers – making it very difficult to know how mobile content is integrated!
  • Yet these settings are critical to mobile marketing. Following Google’s best-practices for mobile user-agent redirection may mean the difference between SERP visibility and being tagged a cloaker. They also matter for PPC given Google’s shift to Enhanced Campaigns.
  • Viewing these settings efficiently requires tools with broader scope and scale. Sites that use these redirect techniques often target multiple user-agents. If each triggers a unique HTTP response, that’s multiple headers to review for each URL.
  • Marketers are seemingly left with the option of doing tedious, manual surveys, using each device to request URLs, watching URLs flicker around, and guessing how the server responded. It’s time for a more scalable, scientific approach to mobile marketing!

We viewed these issues as an opportunity to imagine a new kind of header checking tool: one that makes mobile redirect settings (1) accessible and visible; (2) accessible with respect to mobile’s multi-device scope; (3) accessible instantaneously from any website; (4) accessible from smartphones, tablets, and desktops themselves; and (5) accessible with respect to modern design sensibilities.

Mobile Redirect Viewer is our response to this wish-list!

What The Viewer Reveals

Think of Mobile Redirect Viewer as a search engine for discovering server redirect configuration. It shows the following server responses for any URL entered:

  • User-agent redirects served to smartphones, tablets, desktops
  • Whether redirect Vary tags contain the proper User Agent flag
  • The redirect location URL for determining content relevance
  • Any page caching used for managing load speed and bounce
  • Determining whether a page uses server- or browser-redirects

Visibility into these settings not only helps you optimize with respect to Google’s mobile SEO guidelines, it also helps optimize mobile PPC – or any other mobile ad campaign (Display, Social, Email) – where landing page routing impacts bounce and conversion.

 

A look inside Techcrunch's Mobile Redirects

A look inside Techcrunch’s Mobile Redirects (click here for direct access)

How The Viewer Works

When a URL is submitted, the AJAX engine begins to query the URL simultaneously using the following set of representative iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry and Desktop user-agent browser strings (which we update over time):

  • Desktop

Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; Intel Mac OS X 10.7; rv:18.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/18.0
  • iPhone (also what mobile Googlebot uses)

Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_0 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/532.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0.5 Mobile/8A293 Safari/531.22.7
  • iPad

Mozilla/5.0 (iPad; U; CPU OS 4_3 like Mac OS X; da-dk) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8F190 Safari/6533.18.5
  • Android

Mozilla/5.0 (Linux; U; Android 2.0; en-us; Droid Build/ESD20) AppleWebKit/530.17 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0 Mobile Safari/530.17
  • Blackberry

BlackBerry9530/4.7.0.167 Profile/MIDP-2.0 Configuration/CLDC-1.1 VendorID/102 UP.Link/6.3.1.20.0

As the responses stream in, relevant mobile redirect data is filtered and displayed in dedicated tabs. Once the process is complete (as indicated by tab spinners), each tabs reveals the values received by the server for each user-agent. Simple.

 

Mobile Redirect Viewer: Responsive for Smartphones, Tablets and Desktops

Mobile Redirect Viewer Results: Responsive to Smartphone, Tablet and Desktop Browsers

How to Share Results

The app’s real-time AJAX processing makes the results dynamic, not static. The Viewer uses a psuedo-static URL construct to allow for deep-linking into results. It hashtags result “pages” with the query URL as a fragment (e.g., #!=www.ford.com) which tells the app to dynamically start processing that URL upon startup.

That means when you link to Viewer results (from web pages, emails, social media) recipients don’t have to re-query. The app just works, instantly, like a dynamic web page.

It also enables the Viewer’s bookmarklet to submit hashed URLs into the app for processing remotely from any site. No typing. No pasting. Just instant visibility into a URL’s redirects. It’s portable awesomeness, the way mobile was meant to be!

 

Use Mobile Redirect Viewer Bookmarklet for Remote Access

Use the Viewer Bookmarklet for Instantaneous Remote Visibility

Fun Sites To View

Like a good search engine, Mobile Redirect Viewer helps you discover things you didn’t know and may have never thought to look for. Just for fun, our inner digital-anthropologists spotted a few brands doing interesting things with their mobile redirects. See if you can spot them using the Viewer. (There’s even a rare 303 redirect in the bunch!)

Now, Look Both Ways!

Before heading off into the wild, remember the Viewer is in public beta. It’s pretty cool (we think), but not perfect. There are a few issues we’re aware of, you should be too:

  • Querying Hashed URLs
    Querying deep URLs that have hashtags may clash with the Viewer’s hashed URL, resulting in a false 404. For now, delete the hashed URL element and resubmit.
  • Truncated Field Values
    The Viewer’s design truncates URLs or field values over 35 characters with “…” Hovering reveals the full value on desktop, but not on smartphones or tablets. We’re working on.
  • Browser Support
    With deepest apologies to IE friends, the app and bookmarklet only support Chrome, Safari, and Firefox browsers. Please use a supported browser to take advantage of the app.

To report new bugs (like URL queries that cause weird app behavior) use the comments below or send a tweet to @pureo2labs. We’d also appreciate hearing what you think of the app.

Be sure to follow Pure Oxygen Labs on TwitterFacebook, and Google+ for release updates made to the Viewer and other innovations!

OK. Where To?

Small steps. Giant leaps.That’s up to you. There’s a world of mobile redirects out there waiting to be discovered, waiting to be optimized.

Start exploring it today with Mobile Redirect Viewer – our small app that we hope helps you make giant leaps forward in mobile performance. Happy viewing!!

Brian

 

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