It has been a long time since I’ve found myself frustrated by using Google for searching. Kind of like breathing, finding what I need on Google is something I take for granted. But using Google on mobile is just plain frustrating to me. Let me explain with an example:
Google Mobile Case Study
Finding pizza in Lakewood, CO
First I log into my Internet Explorer and go to my home page. This happens to be the Palm Mobile Portal. Prominently featured top of the page is a Google search box. Of course I have assumed for months that because this is a mobile portal that this would be a Google Mobile search box. It isn’t.
My first search on Google brings me a page of results that are not mobile-friendly until the third listing. On a desktop computer the third listing is fine. On mobile after I have already clicked twice into full sized sites that are impossible to navigate quickly and easily I am frustrated. It is unlikely I will even get to the third result.
Admittedly, the Palm Mobile Portal should be offering the Google Mobile search engine, so this is not entirely the fault of Google. However, surely Google has a way of seeing what device I am using when I search, right? If so, I should be directed to the mobile search engine.
So what does the Mobile Google search engine bring up? By the way, this is located at mobile.google.com. (Do not go to google.com/mobile or you will see a desktop sized site explaining how to get to mobile.google.com and it takes awhile to find it.)
The first three listings are local business listings and show up great on mobile. Finally, I am getting somewhere. These listings format nicely and give me what I want when I am mobile – a map, directions, click to call, hours, and a few reviews. However, if I didn’t find the restaurant I was looking for here I would scroll down a bit more.
After the business listings (of which only three are shown without an additional click) I am shown the same non-mobile friendly sites as I saw when I was searching from the non-mobile search box. In this case they are local.yahoo.com listings which are the exact same sites served on the desktop. This is NOT good. Except for the tiny fraction of people who have iPhones, this is like being asked to suck a basketball through a straw.
Then the CitySearch listings show up and these are mobile friendly. YEAH! Google should have put these listings above the Yahoo ones. I am confident that the Google I have grown to love and count on will change their algorithms soon to show mobile sites higher up on the results page when someone is searching with a mobile device.
In conclusion, I realize fully that these are not horrible results and that I could have done more to make the experience better for myself (like switching my home page to a true mobile portal) but these are the experiences of mobile consumers – our audience. If they find the mobile web frustrating or hard to search it impacts us all. It is important that we as mobile marketers do whatever we can to make the general population happy with mobile.