2012 summer olympics

Ranking Google, Yahoo and Bing on Mobile Search for the Olympics

Danny Sullivan recently ranked the three major search engines on their user experience and results for Olympics-related searches.For Olympic medal count information, he awarded Yahoo with gold, followed closely by Google with silver and Bing bronze.

Inspired by his research, and considering the high volume of people that will be searching for Olympic results on-the-go, I’ve decided to look into mobile search experience for the Olympics among the three engines.

Yahoo – Gold Medal for Desktop Search Results, Silver for Mobile Search Results

Yahoo Olympics Desktop and Mobile Search Results

Yahoo Olympics Desktop and Mobile Search Results

I’ve put the Yahoo desktop and mobile search results pages side by side for easy comparison. The first thing I noticed that was missing from the mobile search page is the Olympic Medal Totals feature. Yahoo desktop search results display medal count for up to 10 countries (compared to Google’s five), which put Yahoo ahead of Google in Sullivan’s eyes.

Olympics - Yahoo Mobile Search Results

Olympics – Yahoo Mobile Search Results

Although Olympic medal count is not in clear view here, other basic information is visible, including the host city and the duration (July 27 to Aug 12). There is an updated Olympic Games schedule for coming events and their start times, which aligns with what people are looking for when they search “Olympics”.

Olympics - Yahoo Sports Site

Olympics – Yahoo Sports Site

One important thing to note is that Yahoo’s search results seem to favour their own sports site ca.sports.yahoo.com. It is obvious that Yahoo wants to direct mobile users to their sports section, which is the hub of all things Olympics-related.

On Yahoo! Sports, Olympics fans will find Editors’ Olympics picks, news, featured videos, articles, “fourth place” medals, and more. Personally, I find the “Record Breakers” chart a pretty cool feature. I like that it outlines the results and also types of records (WR/ OR) that have been broken so far.


Google- Silver Medal for Desktop Search Results, Gold for Mobile Search Results

Google Olympics Desktop and Mobile Results

Google Olympics Desktop and Mobile Results

The biggest reason that Danny Sullivan favoured Yahoo above Google was the medal count display. Currently, Google only displays up to five countries. In the desktop screen capture above, Google shows Canada as the 5th country even though it’s ranked 32 among other countries, which is logical for searches in Canada and is also user-friendly.

Similarly, Google mobile search seems to go by the same rule and shows Canada as the 4th country right below the top three. Personally, I prefer Google for Olympics-related searches on mobile. As a user, I find it important for my mobile and desktop experience to be consistent because my search behavior on mobile is still a reflection of my search behaviour on desktop. In other words, I have been conditioned by my desktop search experience and carry some of those expectations to my mobile search experience. I think this is what Google does best, aligning user experience and making it congruent across devices.

Olympics - Google Mobile Results

Olympics – Google Mobile Results

Continuing as a Google “fan girl”, Google mobile displays a nice medal count on a search for “Olympics Canada”. The results also highlight Canadian content, showing headlines from local television, CityNews, the source for exclusive Olympics coverage for Team Canada.

Bing- Bronze Medal for Desktop Search Results, Bronze for Mobile Search Results

Olympics - Bing Mobile Results

Olympics – Bing Mobile Results

Danny Sullivan’s biggest beef with Bing is that a desktop user will need to refine their searches to “medal count” or “Olympic games schedule” to bring back answers. A similar pattern exists on Bing mobile search, where it gives back very generic results for the word “olympics”, such as the Olympics official site, and a couple headlines for news ranging from events and athletes to economic implications for the host country.

As if sensing that users won’t find what they need, and instead of remedying that by displaying more Olympic results, Bing mobile shows a long list of “Related Suggestions” for users to choose from. How many times are you willing to click on these links before getting to the answer that you want? My point exactly.

Bing Olympics Mobile Results - Related Suggestions

Bing Olympics Mobile Results – Related Suggestions

For mobile search results relating to the Olympics, I would award Google gold, Yahoo silver and Bing bronze. Google does have over 90% of the market share for mobile search, so it’s not surprising that they put more effort into creating a positive experience for mobile users. Yahoo has the advantage of housing its own content in Yahoo! Sports section, which is great for users looking to see all kinds of Olympics results in one place. There’s no doubt Bing sits at the bottom among the three. Whether you favour Google or Yahoo on mobile, however, depends on what you’re looking for- a quick glance of the medal count or a hub of all things Olympics for your viewing pleasure.