Getting a separate mobile site done right.
I have client who has gone the way of the separate mobile site in a folder, and I`m trying to get things to work well.
The main pages use rel alternate media links to the mobile equivalent
Mobile pages point back via rel canonical
This seems to work well for Google Organic results, but the issue is bigger. Backlinks from other sources are fixed and to the main website URLs. To try and solve that we have a mobile plugin (WordPress) that redirects (302) mobile users on their first visit in a day. This includes links from Google Places in the search results, which are a very common. This still means people will not get the mobile site on their second visit in the day. I think the once only is so that people can switch to the main site if they want. Is there a better way to do this so that mobile users always get the mobile site unless they specifically opt out. And vice versa. Maybe there is a better mobile plugin?
probably not an option since you already implemented a m-dot site. But you could use dynamical HTML with the vary HTTP header. With that you keep the URL the same and only the HTML changes to serve a mobile optimized page. Like with any user-agent sniffing it is pretty much an arms-race.
I may be able to do that via .htaccess rewrites. I like the idea. Down side it does force what a person sees, but so does basic responsive.
you can set it up so that you only "force" the mobile version once and once the desktop version is chosen you serve that version the next time first. Or vice versa. If you serve the desktop version and they go to the mobile version the next time you serve the mobile version first. You can do those things with cookies. But this is similar to m-dot approach. The difference between m-dot and dynamic HTML is that the URL doesn`t change and thereby any incoming links aren`t really a problem.
However with both approaches you need to sniff the UA and that will make it quite time-consuming....
Why not use mobile detection and add redirects based on their device in the head section? Implement some php if statements to redirect users based on their browser if you`re using php.
I think responsive design would have been the better choice and then add htaccess redirects for the existing mobile links. Then you would gain all the traffic to a single url.