When it comes to managing your mobile presence, Google currently has a preference for responsive Web design, but doesn’t discriminate against mobile sites. As one of its recommended best practices, however, it strongly recommends against simply using PC sites as mobile landing pages.
Google CEO Larry Page seems to disagree.
A number of articles over the past 24 hours have reacted to some passing comments Page made about his personal frustration with the simplicity and limited information on many mobile websites.
Below is what Page said on the Google earnings call this week. He follows a comment from Google’s Nikesh Arora about advertisers and the growth of mobile landing pages. Page seems to directly contradict what Arora says:
NA: As far as specifically how many advertisers have mobile landing pages that they can send their users to? That number is not as much as we would like it. Obviously, we’ve had programs, we have talked about in the past earning calls like GoMo which help businesses go mobile, so those efforts are bearing fruit but broadly speaking, I think we are happy with the progress we have made both on getting advertisers to be more mobilized and also what we are doing from a campaign management perspective to get more and more campaigns that can run across all devices and form factors.
LP: I’ll just add on the mobile question. We don’t necessarily want them to have mobile sites some are too simple and I find I get kind of frustrated on my phone sometimes when I have these mobile specific sites because I am using a modern Nexus 4 that can actually view up the full site and I just find it confusing.
Page seems to be discouraging developers and publishes from designing specifically for mobile. Will this attitude “trickle down” and impact Google’s mobile rankings or AdWords policies? (AdWords rewards mobile landing pages and sites with better position.) I don’t think we’ll see any impact whatsoever from Page’s remarks.
He’s speaking exclusively about his personal experience and his desire for more information. He says the Nexus 4 can handle displaying full PC websites. However the majority of smartphone users will experience frustration and abandon sites that are too hard to read or load too slowly on mobile devices.
Yet, Page’s more general critique about the poor quality of many mobile sites is valid. Marketers should take more time to think about the mobile user experience and provide sufficient information and content to enable users to get the information they need and make buying decisions.
There’s a parallel problem with mobile display advertising. Most mobile display ad creative is quite weak. More time and care needs to be taken with developing mobile ads that are more compelling and engaging to users.