Responsive design has been a trend in the web industry for more than two years and is still one of the key factors of a successful digital strategy. The main idea behind it is to allow a neat website view regardless of a device a visitor is coming from.
Of course, the major reason why responsive design has become so popular among designers is the fact users more commonly rely on their smartphones and tablets to browse the Internet.
Namely, as announced by Google and many other companies, this year global mobile searches are expected to top those coming from desktop platforms for the first time. What this means is that websites that are not adjusted to the needs of mobile users are probably losing a significant portion of traffic. Therefore, to ensure your visitors would keep coming back, you need to consider implementing an appropriate mobile strategy.
However, another important thing is to create a mobile website in such a way that both Googebots and users are happy with it, which is where responsive design jumps in.
Google recommends responsive
As explained in their developers’ guide, Google recognizes three methods of building mobile-friendly websites: responsive design, dynamic serving and separate URLs. Out of these three, responsive is the recommended pattern because it shows the same HTML code across multiple screen sizes, adjusting the display to suit every one. Even though the other two techniques may serve the purpose, they may not be as effective solutions in terms of SEO.
No content forking
Although dynamic serving could be another way to create custom mobile experience for your visitors, it means that multiple sets of same content would be hosted on a single URL. Another problem here may be a faulty device detection, which can result in messy display. In relation to this, Google notes:
“For Googlebot, it’s not immediately obvious that a site dynamically serves HTML based on User Agent. Use standard HTTP header method to indicate that server response can vary based on user agent. Ensure Googlebot and Googlebot-Mobile can access all the pages’ CSS, JS and image files.”
No separate URLs
Although many people opt for building separate websites for mobile and desktop platforms, this may again be a negative cue for Googlebots. Much like with dynamic serving, a separate mobile site can lead to content forking and faulty redirects. However, probably the major problem here is that m.sites essentially mean multiple URLs and therefore lots of redirects.
In the world of SEO, redirects have always been an inefficient way of doing things because they often translate into longer page load time. Again, this may result in poorer rankings, which makes it clear why you should avoid this option whenever possible.
In the world where the number of mobile subscribers globally passed 1.5 billion, delivering seamless experience for everyone is critical. Responsive design emerges as a solution for modern companies to reach the widest number of possible consumers and is currently the most efficient method of building a mobile-friendly website. As opposed to other methods, responsive design may take longer to build, but it is definitely a valuable investment.