Google tests features to speed up mobile search

Speeding up search

Google has announced improvements to its mobile search offering that could vastly accelerate the process for users.

In an official blog post yesterday, the search giant revealed two new features that mobile users may notice in the near future. The first is expandable sitelinks; within the existing sitelinks will be further sub sections or categories. This allows the user to navigate to the page they want to view without actually entering the site.

The second feature to speed up mobile searching is a blue Quick View button (pictured). Currently being tested for Wikipedia articles in English on Google.com, it will provide users with a brief overview of the page without the need to click through. Although aimed primarily at informational searches, Google explained the feature would soon be expanded to additional sites.

In both instances, users will enjoy fewer steps to the information they need, and therefore spend less time waiting for pages to load. However, the changes will also impact site owners, who may notice a change to traffic. Expanding sitelinks means searchers may not visit the homepage or navigate normally through the site, entering straight from SERPs to the landing page they need. Meanwhile it remains to be seen whether Quick View will be extended to commercial sites, and if so, whether a click on the button will be recorded as a visit.

Adapting to the market

With an estimated two thirds of the UK population owning a smartphone, and the rollout of 4G predicted to boost usage figures even further, mobile search is becoming more important than ever. Recent research from Google and Nielsen also revealed that a surprisingly high 73 per cent of mobile searches result in a conversion or further action.

Google has strived to adapt to this shift, with mobile search developing in leaps and bounds in the last two years to include voice search, location-based search and Google Now. Similarly, Google's mobile PPC offering has changed rapidly to reflect the market.

Natalie Booth, head of search at theEword, commented: "The nature of mobile search means users want to find information as quickly and easily as possible - these changes are the latest in a long line of improvements for Google. However, webmasters will have to think carefully about their site structure to capitalise on the expanding sitelinks feature, while complying with mobile website best practice is vital to ensure users have a great experience once they actually enter the site."

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