One interesting item I noticed late last night when checking one of my websites Flights-au.com.au on my WindowsPhone was that I was not seeing my website, when I was visiting the site via a Google.com.au search query. We are not talking my website was hacked and it was showing something else it was actually showing a completely stripped down text version of my website. It appeared as if my website’s content was scrapped by Google!
I quickly tested visiting the same website from Bing and it showed my normal website but the same search query from Google.com.au was showing a different version and not the WordPress site. So this ruled out that it was my WindowsPhone showing a mobile version of the WordPress site it was actually an entirely scrapped version of my site now powered by Google.
I had assumed there was something wrong with my site and I didn’t think too much of it until today towards the end of SMX Melbourne when I finally had a chance to look at the issue in more detail.
I checked the same search query result in Google.com.au on my friend Mike’s iPhone and it was showing the website correctly as it should be, but the same search query on my phone again showed the scrapped Text version of my site.
The scrapped version of my site started with a message at the top of the page reading “this page adapted for your browser comes from www.flights-au.com.au and is not endorsed by Google.”
The base of my webpage shows a Google search box, with links back to Google search results or Google home. There is also a disclaimer that reads “Formatted for mobile viewing by Google”. You can see the screenshot of it below.
My website is now also being served from this URL and not from the actual website URL. The big issue is that Google has scrapped my entire site removed any advertising banners and removed all of the CSS styling the template offers. The other issue besides robbing publishers of onsite advertising revenue it also means under reporting of actual website visitors within Google Analytics as there is no tracking script on this mobile version.
Google does advise that they might serve your website here, but if you don’t want Google to transcode your site you must specify by adding in an extra meta tag into your <head>.
<link rel=”alternate” media=”handheld” href=”alternate_page.htm” />
This issue appears to be happening to all visitors using Google.com.au mobile version and is not dependant on the website quality, keywords or the CMS. It is Google scrapping your content and serving on it’s own even if you set your mobile browser to load desktop versions of websites.
If you think about the growth of mobile search traffic and the amount of visitors using mobile Google this problem is quite a significant issue and seems to be focused on WindowsPhone users and not iPhone users. This is most likely going to be an issue for anyone trying to monetise their website but don’t have a specific mobile ready website….