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Google Says There’s Not Always a Mobile Web Site for That

Despite the proliferation of smartphones, very few companies have bothered to make surfing the Web a good experience on the phone. That’s how Google sees it, anyway.

To address that perceived problem, Google is kicking off an awareness campaign today to promote building sites that render better on smaller screens.

After all, maybe there’s not always an app for that — or there doesn’t always have to be.

The project, called HowtoGoMo.com, is a public service announcement of sorts that explains why you may need a standalone mobile site — and, if you agree, what to do about it.

The promotional site, which has been delayed for a week, was officially rolled out this morning and detailed in a blog post.

In an interview, Google’s director of mobile, Jason Spero, explained that the purpose of the site is to walk companies through the process of deciding to build a standalone mobile site. Spero joined Google through the acquisition of AdMob, the mobile ad network.

Amazingly, while Apple has successfully convinced everyone that there needs to be an application for everything found on the Internet, mobile needs have not translated as widely to the need for mobile Web sites.

A survey conducted by Equation Research found that two out of three mobile users have encountered problems when accessing Web sites on their phones over the past 12 months. Load time is the top complaint; more than half reported that they had trouble accessing a site from the phone, and 40 percent said they’d use a competing site if they had to.

Beyond being able to view a Web site on a smaller screen, a mobile version could make it easier to book reservations, buy tickets or look up information with fewer clicks.

The new Google site is a resource center that links to a growing list of 15 to 20 vendors and agencies that can help with all aspects of building a mobile site. The site also has an emulator that shows how your site looks on a phone, and offers case studies from other companies.

Spero said the site is not about making money for Google — well, at least not directly.

If more sites were mobile-ready, Google could conceivably help them with mobile ad campaigns. But right now, Spero said, so many conversations for Google’s mobile advertising division start from scratch because so many companies still don’t have mobile properties.

“Google’s interest here is people being able to do business on mobile phones, and once they can, we can offer a great marketing solution for them,” he said. “Having a proper mobile Web site or an app is a prerequisite to marketing to mobile users.”

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