I recently set up a new design for my site, and I threw a responsive theme on it without hesitation because responsive web design fits the content of the site and how readers will interact with it.
Responsive web design is a website that adjusts itself according to the screen size it’s being displayed on. Responsive web means that you don’t have a separate mobile, tablet and PC versions of your site, just one main page that fits all screen sizes. This kind of solution is easy to read and navigate in all devices without a need to zoom in or out. Responsive web design cannot really be compared with mobile web as one is made specifically for mobile users, other adjusts according to screen size.
Website owners today are faced with the decision of either having a separate mobile website or making their current site responsive. Responsive design simply means that the site will respond to the screen of the device used for browsing and display accordingly. There’s no doubt that responsive Web design is here to stay.
The methodology of the responsive design is still undergoing some evolution — and always will — as new devices like the iPad Mini enter the market. Instead of targeting devices, we’ll see a shift toward the site’s responsiveness so it will adapt to various devices. The bottom line is that as long as multiple devices for browsing are accessible, responsive design will always be a requirement.
There are many benefits for choosing responsive web designing including some SEO benefits.
Pros of responsive web design
1. User-friendly – One website, many devices. One of the most appealing aspects of responsive web design is that a responsive website can provide a great user-experience across many devices and screen sizes. A fully functional and flexible website will improve the user experience and attract visitors to stay on the website. Responsive web design has a positive user experience and customers can have access to all the information and content.
2. Google Loves Responsive Design – This is because responsive design sites have one URL and the same HTML, regardless of device, which makes it easier and more effective for Google to crawl, index, and organize content. It may mean that Google will start to consider this as a factor when ranking websites in near future.
Google is still dominant in search, although search engines like Bing are gaining some of their market share. Until Google’s dominance ends, we pretty much have to listen to what Google has to say and Google has confirmed that responsive web design is the way to go.
“Google recommends webmasters follow the industry best practice of using responsive web design, namely serving the same HTML for all devices and using only CSS media queries to decide the rendering on each device.”
Google’s algorithm now places a lot of weight on user experience. This includes social sharing, the average time spent on a site and the bounce rate. Google will reward your site with a higher placement in the SERPs if you improve your users’ experience. The bottom line here is to take Google at their word, and optimize your site so that it is mobile friendly. It will help improve your rankings and your mobile browsers will thank you for it.
3. One SEO and statistics – Mobile web requires a separate SEO management, which makes tracking statistics more complicated. Responsive web design has one URL and content, which means that the mobile “version” does not require a separate optimization. One URL address means that it is easier to do analytics, monitor and evaluate the SEO. But for getting insights on mobile visitors only you can create a “mobile-only” segment.
SEO is costly and time consuming, so why would you want to repeat the experience for a mobile site? When you choose responsive design over a separate mobile site, all your onsite SEO efforts and social sharing will also apply to the mobile version of your site. Most of your onsite SEO will be maintained for the mobile site, including your anchor text, internal link structure, title tags, meta descriptions, keywords, content and search engine friendly URLs.
Why responsive web design is good for your SEO strategy?
1. Usability – Google wants to offer users what they search for. When potential customer navigates to your site and immediately returns to search engine results pages, Google makes a note that your site might not be the best choice for that search term. Your bounce rate (more about bounce rate) increases but ranking drops – i.e. homepage reputation will be damaged. With a responsive web design, visitors will get all the content they want, in a format they can read.
2. Avoid Duplicate Content – It’s not bad for Google, if the mobile content is the same as in the website. But you’ll still have the same content on two places on the web, which is bothersome for content manager and could bring visitors to the wrong version of website. A responsively-designed website means that it has only one URL and visitors cannot accidentally get into mobile website version, or vice versa.
Responsive design removes the challenge of duplicate content. Webmasters who create mobile versions of their websites usually just replicate the content from the main website on the mobile version. This immediately removes the credibility of the mobile site from the search engines’ perspective. That means it will be difficult for the mobile site to rank. You can counteract the effects of this by using Switchboard tags to make the link between your mobile and desktop pages, but what if Google doesn’t make the connection? Bing and Yahoo have not fully implemented tagging, so you can ruin your site’s reputation with these search engines as well. Responsive design also removes the challenge of updating two or more websites.
3. Keep Your Links – Link building is even more time consuming and costly today than it was months ago. If you’ve invested a lot of time and resources in building backlinks to your site, you’re better off using those links for the benefit of your mobile site as well. People who build stand-alone mobile versions of their websites have to start from scratch with SEO and link building. By using responsive design you’ll have a major advantage over companies that are not.
4. Higher Local Rankings – If you’re targeting local keywords for business, a responsive design will increase your rankings. Keep in mind that more and more people are searching for directions to local businesses while on the go — using their mobile devices. Yelp reported quite a few months ago that about 40 percent of searches came from their mobile app. BGR chimed in to say that more than 10 percent of all web searches originate from mobile devices. Mobile search results are influenced by geo-specific parameters, so your website will have to meet these local SEO pointers. In this way, Google will be able to identify your optimized site as one that’s suitable for quality placement in the search engines.
Cons of Responsive Web Design
1. Loading time – With responsive web design mobile users will be downloading unnecessary HTML/CSS codes, which is not the main problem. The negative side is the long page loading time. Mobiles users usually expect fast service, but the mobile internet is slower and cannot cope with massive websites
2. Development time -Developing responsive web design requires a lot of time from developers and web designers. Both must first learn a completely new and innovative concept. It’s easier and faster to create responsive web design from scratch.
3. Large pages – If a website has a lot of important content, responsive design means that all of that content has to be loaded on mobile pages. Opening time of a page like this is already longer and definitely not a convenient solution for users. If a web page has a lot of content and many different functions, it would be wiser to separate mobile and desktop versions.
4.Not Easy to find – As mobile users expect quick service and they are looking for specific information (e.g. address of the restaurant), it is not best solution to go with responsive web design. Use separate mobile web instead and add only content, that is most important for the visitor. No need to add you accountant hobbies, just contact information works fine.
5. Content management – Developing responsive website is more difficult than making changes on a mobile web. You need to contact with technical team to re-code pictures and other things for responsive web design requirements.
Responsive web design is certainly a convenient solution for various types of websites. It is indeed a lot of work when it comes to development. But if your website is simple, logical, and has a lot of information that cannot be modified for mobile users – this is the right choice. First, set your website goals for both mobile and desktop version. Only with clear purpose you can make a decision whether to go for a responsive web design or separate mobile web.
Go for a responsive web design when:
- You have a lot of information that cannot be modified for mobile users.
- Your website is simple and doesn’t require a separate content for mobile.
- Your website must offer the same quality for desktop and mobile users.