Mobile Icons in Google Smartphone Results

Noticed this last night while trying to discover how the new NBC TV show Revolution attempted to explain the blackout:

[revolution tv show] with a smartphone icon in the URL field of the first listing. Searched from a Galaxy Nexus running Jelly Bean, Sunday August 5, 2012.

If you’re not a frequent mobile searcher you might wonder what I’m looking at. A smartphone icon was appearing next to Wikipedia, IMDB and other sites that offer mobile (i.e. formatted or created for smartphones) content. Detail is here:

Has anyone else seen this? I’m not seeing any talk in the SEO blogs about it, and unfortunately I’m unable to recreate this morning, so it’s probably a test that Google is doing for smartphone results.

Could be a big improvement for usability of the mobile SERPs, as it indicates when a listing redirects you to mobile content. This is similar to Old Possum/Skip Redirect update Google announced in December, but instead of showing mobile URLs they show a smartphone icon– in a way that’s similar to what they have historically shown in feature phone results. If this becomes a permanent addition to the smartphone SERPs, it could give webmasters more incentive to mobilize their content, as searchers might click through more often to content they know is going to be usable for their device.

Please let me know in the comments if you’ve seen this in your own search results and for which queries.

Update: A Google rep confirmed that this is an experiment, saying “We’re experimenting with ways to optimize the mobile search experience, including helping users identify smartphone-optimized sites.” They declined to offer more details.

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