Search

Google launched its new mobile search engine a few days ago.I’ve blogged about it on this post and highlighted the main features.While I think the new user Interface is better than the last one, I’m really saddened (and annoyed) by the fact that Google doesn’t allow users to search inside their mobile web index.

Instead, it has chosen to mix mobile web results with the regular web results depending on the users query. Google must think that because they transcode all pages, users will be happy with what will be displayed on their phones.

Google has probably analyzed the search behavior of mobile users, and depending on where they clicked (web or mobile results), they’ve now decided what to show to the user, without the need for them to select what kind of results they wanted to see.

So, that would mean that this new mobile search engine uses some sort of semantic technology…Yeah, right, the desktop engine is not a fully-fledged semantic search engine and Google wants us to believe that this is the case with the new mobile search engine.

So let’s see how good this new version is. Let’s say that I want to use Google on my phone to search for “ringtones”. With the new version of Google, we have these 6 results on the first page (I did this test with a SonyEricsson W600i):

1. http://www.ringophone.com: transcoded web page : Even if the page was taking so much time to load, I tried to make a purchase and on the next page, my phone displayed an error message saying that the “page was too large to load”

2. http://www.mtv.com/mobile/ringtones/: transcoded web page: Flash Site, unable to buy a ringtone (I got the “page too large to load” message)

3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ringtones: transcoded web page, Wikipedia page

4. http://department.monm.edu/uptildawn/forum/00000b93.htm?ringtones: spam page

5. http://www.ringtonejukebox.com: transcoded web page, again, I’m unable to browse properly and to purchase a ringtone.

6. www.umes.edu/accsupport/ossd/ossdchat/0000008d.htm?ringtones: spam page linking to a page full of ads (not displayed on my phone)

If you click on the next pages, you’ll only get regular web pages and the user experience will be the same.

If users still had the ability to see only mobile pages, their experience would be better (not excellent though). These are the results you would get if you selected “Mobile Web” on the previous version of Google Mobile. You’ll find mobile sites that will display properly on your browser an that have a mobile specific payment solution, for example this site.

So, did Google just go out of its mind?Why did they abandon the mobile web as a source of results? Transcoding pages is not the best solution to ensure a good user experience. There are more and more mobile websites that are user friendly and Google’s just decided to burry them.

I’ve sent a feedback to Google and I hope they will bring back the “mobile web” soon, as I’m sure a lot of people are going to loose a lot of traffic because of that, and users won’t be satisfied either.

[UPDATE]If you are involved in the mobile web and don’t want to lose traffic, please consider leaving a feeback with the comment form on Google Mobile to bring back the mobile web as a separate source of results. Also, please read Dennis’ post on Wap Review  who also complains about this issue.

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13 Responses to “Mobile SEO: Google Has Killed the Mobile Web”

    I agree completely with you on this, Nadir. See my recent post – http://wapreview.com/blog/?p=287 where I make the same point.

    I left Google some feedback using the link on their new mobile search site and I urge everyone who cares about the future of mobile browsing to do the same.

    Dennis

    While the option to search a mobile-only index was nice in theory, in my experience, unless you were searching for mobile entertainment content, it yielded less than satisfactory results.

    The new interface does present challenges but I think that in time, as the spiders get more adept at detecting and evaluating mobile content, this integrated approach will present the best of both worlds.

    [...] * Nadir Garouche from SEO Principle has a detailed blog post about Google’s decision here . Dennis from WAP Review has also chimed in. There are some reports of difficulties in various mailing lists, such as this one. Filed under: Uncategorized [...]

    [...] At the time, I explained all the issues of the new Google Mobile in that post. Several people involved in mobile Web complained about the change. I even sent several emails to some people at Google in order to ask them to bring the Mobile Web index back. Well, it looks like Google heard us. The Mobile Web Index is back on Google Mobile Search engine. If  you go to Google Mobile and search for something, you’ll now have 5 kinds of results: Web, Images, Local, Business, News, and Mobile Web. [...]

    nice mobile search test.

    I’m glad to see that it’s back but I wonder about the mobile web search from an SEO standpoint. Dows Google give any extra weight to a site that provides mobile specific pages? With the advent of video being used for, well, just about everything, it might pay to have some pages coded just for the moving about crowd.
    Russell

    [...] No, Google displays a mix of results (mobile versions and regular versions) through mobile search. In the past you could switch between its mobile-site-only index and blended results, but apparently this ended in 2007. [...]

    Yeah, we have a mobile games site and a very accomplished mobile site but now everyone’s being sent to the web site which is too big and data heavy for most mobile users!

    [...] No, Google displ&#97ys &#97 &#109ix of &#114esults (&#109obile ve&#114sions &#97nd &#114egul&#97&#114 ve&#114sions) t&#104&#114oug&#104 &#109obile se&#97&#114c&#104. In t&#104e p&#97st you could s&#119itc&#104 bet&#119een its &#109obile-site-only index &#97nd blended &#114esults, but a&#112&#112arently th&#105s ended &#105n 2007. [...]

    Nice Posting. Thanks for sharing the Moblibe SEO.

    good to sharing. might be useful.

    [...] No, Google displays a mix of results (mobile versions and regular versions) through mobile search. In the past you could switch between its mobile-site-only index and blended results, but apparently this ended in 2007. [...]

    It has been shown in studies that most users will not return to a site if it takes more than 3 to 4 seconds to load in full. Why they would tarnish the user experience like that I don’t know. I believe it should at the least be an option to search only mobile websites.