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September 21, 2009

Mobile Search Showdown

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lady and mobile phone
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After spending the weekend camping off the grid, I have a renewed appreciation for just how competent and satisfying the mobile Web experience can be. I don’t need no high-falutin’ electricity. Keep your restroom facilities and the five-minute hike it takes to get there. Give a girl a fully charged smart phone and a connection to the Web and I’m a happy camper — literally.

As far as mobile search experiences are concerned, according to a recent study, Google’s taking home the gold among the three major search engines.

Google’s mobile search was praised in the study for being simple in user interface, succinct in content and for having a mature device detection and for automatically tailoring results based on the user’s location.

Actually, both Yahoo! and Google are location-aware, which put them on top of a young Bing mobile search that asks users to input their location. However, in the end, a full, dedicated mobile search site put Google on top of Yahoo!’s mobile search, which is integrated into Yahoo!’s general home page.
Other mobile categories judged in the study include social networks, sports and news. In overall judging, qualities that can bring one app ahead of the competition include:

  • For search, Google was praised for not only detecting mobile devices, but also for tailoring results based on location info from the phone or IP address.
  • Baseball news site MLB.com automatically detects each visitor’s phone-type and adapts the display and content to fit screen size and computing power.
  • The ability to share content via Twitter or e-mail is seen as a plus for social network site Taptu.

Drawbacks of those mobile sites judged include:

  • The New York Times and MSN were docked for putting too much info on the front page.
  • The Wall Street Journal doesn’t offer SMS alerts, falling short of some mobile user’s expectations.
  • Extraneous HTML and validation errors made a difference in the winner/runner-up story of Google and Yahoo!

In this first year that a site received higher than 70 of a possible 100 points in the Yankee Group’s Mobile Web Report Card, it’s clear that mobile is blowing up, and that Web developers have made strides keeping their products forward-looking and reacting to user’s preferences and the unique needs of mobile surfing.

businessman using windows mobile device
CC BY-ND 2.0

According to Yankee Group, almost a third of phone users browse the Web from their mobile devices. There’s an eager market out there, but have you had a chance to think about your site’s place in it?

Take a cue from the high-performing mobile sites — what are they doing wrong that you are, and what are they doing right that you aren’t? Re-examine the usability of your mobile experience. Consider what capabilities might enhance your mobile site. Is it appropriate to make your mobile Web site a unique experience, keeping in mind the mobile surfing habits — like sharing through text and Twitter, and offering location-specific info?

No one’s willing to be tied to their desks anymore to find your Web site. Are you ready to serve engaged Internet users on the go?

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3 responses to “Mobile Search Showdown”

  1. SammyNams writes:

    Buying movie tickets on your phone is great. I can’t wait to see that convenience adopted across the board. =D

  2. Virginia Nussey writes:

    Hey Sammy! I felt so smug skipping most of the line by buying tix at the self-serve machines. Buying them over the phone may be even easier! :)

  3. sachxn writes:

    I agree that Google’s mobile search is top class..I use it all the time and on a couple of accasions it has helped me a lot..I mean a lot…



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