Sneak Peek of Google’s Mobile Search Icon
In recent months there have been reporting’s of little mobile icons appearing next to certain search results. The icons represented mobile friendly websites to those using Google’s mobile search. Few were lucky enough to notice the icons considering Google took it off shortly after. The only comment we have heard from Google concerning this is, “We’re experimenting with ways to optimize the mobile search experience, including helping users identify smartphone-optimized sites.”
On October 26th, 2012, Mike Arnesen of SwellPath was lucky enough to capture this search result on his mobile device. Less than an hour later I went to check out this feature on my phone and the mobile icons were already moved. This shows us that Google hasn’t trashed this idea and is still currently testing it. This leads me to two questions.
Why the hold up?
For Google, a task of slapping an icon next to mobile friendly websites in the search results is not a hard task. So why hasn’t this feature been officially launched? Could it be that Google is trying to figure out what exactly defines a “mobile friendly” website? Some “mobile friendly” websites I have visited in the past were so horrible and hard to navigate that I had to find the button to visit the full site version. The last thing Google wants to do is release this early and encourage users to visit a poorly designed mobile website or vice versa. While that’s a possibility to the delay, I think my next question is a little more closer to the truth.
Are we about to see Google’s first mobile algorithm update?
Maybe this is the conspiracy side of me, but could Google be holding off because they are hoping to roll out the new mobile icons with a Panda-like update geared towards mobile phones? With so many users using the internet on mobile devices it makes complete sense for Google to seriously consider a major algorithm update to make the mobile search experience much more pleasant. Since the Panda update, Google has really been pushing user experience from the layout of a website to how good the actual content is. By 2014, mobile internet usage is expected to overtake desktop internet usage (Microsoft Tag). With so many stats indicating the rise of mobile usage, we can see that having a mobile website for your company is slowly moving from a luxury to something expected by the user.
Whether Google will actually launch an major algorithm update benefiting mobile friendly website is anybody’s guess. However, what we do know is the second those mobile icons become permanent, expect your website’s mobile traffic to take a nice drop if your search result doesn’t have that icon.