By Lisa L. Doble, JD, Senior Vice President Mercer Capital
Are there differences in search results depending on the device used? This question arose when I saw a new application for tablets that allows you to explore the Web. A few questions came to mind: What does that mean? Is that different from a search engine? How does that impact my work if I’m using a tablet?
An Alternative to Google
When I want to search the web on my tablet (or smartphone), I click the web icon and enter my query into Google, which is the built-in search engine. However, there is another option. The developers of a desktop search engine called Blekko have released an alternative to Google. Izik, a play on Isaac Newton’s name, debuted in late 2012 as a free app for iPad and Android tablets. Izik (izik.com) is meant to deliver results in a more tablet-friendly experience. Developers indicated they wanted a different look than the typical list of blue links delivered on a desktop, and they achieved that. It presents search results grouped into categories. Users scroll horizontally to browse the results in various categories and can expand a category to see additional results without leaving the page.
Different Look or Device, Different Results?
A different look doesn’t necessarily speak to differences in results that may occur according to the device used. However, you may have already realized that Google may offer different search results depending on whether the query was made from a smartphone or a desktop computer. Generally, differences arise as the algorithm returns results that will work better on a mobile device (i.e. puts them higher on the list of hits) if a phone was used to search. Last year Google was testing a mobile phone icon on its results page that indicated a mobile-device friendly link. Interestingly, the results may also be slightly different depending on the phone used. MobileMoxie offers a tool for comparing search results on up to three different types of phones.
Results May Be Customized
In terms of assessing the information returned, one should note that tablet/smartphone search results may be more localized. Maps and other local places may appear well before general informational links. Additionally, android users are always logged in, meaning your search results are going to be personalized. As we have mentioned previously, personalized results may or may not be helpful, depending on the information you seek.
As many of us turn to the portability and versatility of tablets for work, it is important to realize that there may be differences in information they retrieve relative to the laptop or desktop we are accustomed to using.