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Nebulous112

Google search links to STEP forum - Issues on mobile

Question

As my computer has been under repair for the last week, I have been using my smartphone to browse and post on the STEP forum.

I've noticed an issue when searching Google for anything on the STEP forum. The Google links seem to add some "smartbanner" text and referrer text, which results in just displaying a blank page. The page loads, but nothing is there. Swiping down seems to reload the page, with no effect other than a brief animated circular arrow in blue to indicate it is reloading.

This seems to occur only with Google search; Bing search and Yahoo search do not have this issue. Tested on Samsung Note 4 with Chrome, Samsung Note 4 with Firefox, and BlackBerry 10 with in-built "Browser".

For example, I searched "Dragon priest Kajuan step" (with no quotations), and this is the link I got from the first result:
 

http://forum.step-project.com/tt/smartbanner/welcome.php?referer=http%3A%2F%2Fforum.step-project.com%2Ftopic%2F8333-dragon-priest-by-kajuan%2F&code=4f8373179b91ba39168d307691afcd7b&board_url=http%3A%2F%2Fforum.step-project.com&lang=en

Note that this issue is not found on other forums. For example, on my Note 4 if I search "Tes5edit afk" (no quotes), the first result link will bring me to the TES5Edit AFKMods forum thread, and the page displays correctly. If I search "usleep bethsoft" (no quotes), the first link brings me to the USLEEP thread on the Bethesda forums, and it also displays correctly.

I'm not sure if anything can be done about this, as it seems like a Google issue, but as other forums do not have this issue, I thought I would bring it up.

Thanks for your time,

Nebulous

Edited by TechAngel85

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12 answers to this question

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Just now checked this out and, sure enough on my Samsung smartphone this is the behaviour.

Searches from the PC are fine.

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I think it might be related to the STEP web software. Whenever I use my phone to access STEP the response is always asking (annoyingly) whether I want to download Tapa talk (I don't), and it's recognizing the device as a smartphone. When I look at the Google response to the query mentioned above, in the resulting search page the first entry with the STEP page starts with "Mobile Friendly". Perhaps the web software is adding some unwanted text (in addition to the unwanted request to use Tapa talk) that causes problems with the browser on the phone.

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What I find interesting is that I opened the Dragon Priest thread in a browser and everything is normal. I then changed the user agent string to Windows Phone 7 and it immediately popped up the box asking me to install Tapatalk.

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Confirmed. This seems to be an issue with TapaTalk forum integration and Google. S4n may have some ideas.

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Google is storing the URL with the smartbanner portion in the path, so I'm guessing they probably crawl the web acting like a mobile device as well, since that is the only time the taptalk smartbanner will show. Beyond that, it's likely that the smartbanner referrer portion of the Tapatalk addon is not working correctly. We'll explore options and see if we can't resolve this.

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I had found the issue, however, it really is broke.

 

The problem is two fold:

  1. Google appears to also be crawling as if it were a mobile device, and thus search results from a mobile device will result in links to sites based on a mobile view.
  2. Due to #1, Google has cached links from a much older TapaTalk install, and through numerous updates, the welcome.php file that is in the link no longer exists.

Bing doesn't appear to do this, and Yahoo uses Bing technology.

 

If you do use Google from a mobile device, and click on a link that goes to the STEP forum, you will now receive an HTTP 404 error if it's an older cache. The way around this is to go back to Google, click settings (three vertical dots) and select "Request Desktop Site". That will update the search results and you will get the actual link to the forum instead of the very old TapaTalk cached link. Works in Chrome and Firefox browsers in Android.

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