There are still a lot of things that needs to be understood with regards to mobile search engines. One aspect of this is known as transcoding. Basically, it is a fact that search engines including Google, manipulates the results on the mobile results page. In some cases, it may want to rank certain pages higher than others even though it can tell that these sites aren’t suitable (file size may be too large or contain mobile-unfriendly coding like Flash).
In the said instances, it will still display the results page as normal. However, when you click on a link, you’ll be redirected to a temporary URL representing the “transcoded” version of that page. The transcoded page is the scraped version of the page you requested; it will shot text and small images but omits all other aspects that may cause problems in a mobile browser.
Is Transcoding Beneficial for You?
For website owners who have totally disregarded mobile web, transcoding is beneficial. It allows them to rank in mobile results when they would have been omitted. On the other hand, it can totally jumble up a page – making your site a lot less attractive to users. Search engines can miss up the core navigation of a page, cut out crucial sections, and break long pages into different pages. In essence, transcoding typically resemble the pages kept in Google’s cache.
Most people use their phones to determine how their sites appear on mobile results. However, it is also important to recognize that these pages may look different from one phone to another. The less sophisticated a mobile devise is, the more likely that transcoded pages will appear on the results. There are several ways to effectively see how your pages appear on the mobile web. These include (1) clicking on the “options” button on the right side of the SERP page and then choosing “mobile formatted” and (2) inserting your URL into http://www.google.com/gwt/n.
Individuals who want to prevent their websites from being transcoded should include the “no-transform” cache control on their template. However, this tactic is not 100% effective. Fortunately, because mobile users are increasingly using sophisticated devices, transcoding is becoming less common. Also, minor tweaks on your website will enable it to be more user-friendly on the mobile web.
Mobile search engine transcoding can be a good thing or an undesirable tactic, depending on your current strategy. But at the end of the day, it is still possible to control the appearance of your website – whether on desktop computers or mobile devices.