Responsive web design (RWD) is a web design approach which is focused on creating a site to provide an optimal viewing experience which includes easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning and scrolling on a wide variety of devices.
Responsive web design allows your website to be easily viewed on not only desktops and laptops, but also tablets and smartphones as well. The design of your website adapts to the screen of the device accessing it so users don’t have to zoom in and move side to side to view all of the site’s content.
Since SEO is a core component of your digital marketing strategy, having a mobile-friendly website is becoming crucial.
Mobile sales have already passed desktop sales, and mobile internet usage is predicted to surpass desktop internet usage by the end of this year. It is only logical that mobile search will overtake desktop search at the some point in the near future as well.
A study shows that 67 percent of internet users claim they are more likely to purchase from a mobile-friendly website, companies that rely on SEO would be wise to start making the transition to mobile-friendly websites, and specifically responsive web design.
The debate about whether to choose a responsive website or a separate mobile website is a popular topic. However, the truth is that both options have their pros and cons.
The option best for your business depends on many factors, such as the purpose of the website, the intended target audience, and whether SEO is a factor. If SEO is a factor to your website, here are a few reasons why responsive web design is the best option for your mobile website.
Google recommends it
Since Google is a the major player in the search engine industry, when they speak, search marketers pay close attention. Google states that responsive web design is its recommended mobile configuration, and they even go so far as to refer to responsive web design as the industry best practice.
They make this claim because responsive design sites have one URL and the same HTML, regardless of the device, which makes it easier and more efficient for Google to crawl, index and organize content. In contrast, a separate mobile site which has a different URL and different HTML than its desktop counterpart, would require Google to crawl and index multiple versions of the same site.
Google also prefers responsive web design because content that resides on one website and one URL is much easier for users to share, interact with and link to than content that resides on a separate mobile site.
For example, a mobile user who shares content from a mobile site with a friend on Facebook, who then accesses that content using a desktop will result in that user viewing a stripped down mobile site on their desktop. This will create a less than optimal user-experience, and because of the large emphasis Google is placing on user-experience as a ranking factor, this is essential to consider with regards to SEO.
One website covering several 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. This is important, since it is impossible to anticipate all the devices and screen sizes searchers will use to access your site. A site that works well regardless of these variables will provide a better and more consistent user-experience than a separate mobile site that is designed for a specific device and screen size.
An example of this would be, someone searches for a product on their smartphone during a break at work. They find a site that has the product they’re looking for, and decide to continue research when they get home. However, when they get home, they use their desktop instead of their smartphone.
If the site they are searching is responsive, they will have a positive user-experience when transitioning from their mobile device to a desktop because they will be viewing the same site on their desktop as they did on their smartphone. On the other hand, if the site is a dedicated mobile site, this person will become frustrated with the fact that they have to locate the desktop version on the site, and find the product all over again.
Easier to manage
Having a separate desktop and mobile site requires having separate SEO campaigns. Managing one site and one SEO campaign is far easier than managing two sites and two SEO campaigns. This is a major advantage that a responsive website has over a separate mobile site.
However, there are benefits to having a mobile-specific SEO strategy, such as optimizing for keywords that are more likely to be searched when someone is on their smartphone.
For example, someone performing a mobile search for a local restaurant may be more inclined to use the word “nearby” in their search query. However, a separate mobile site isn’t a requirement for a mobile SEO strategy, and there’s no reason why mobile-specific keywords can’t be incorporated into a responsive design site as well.
A responsive web design is recommended because it allows one website to provide a great user-experience across many devices and screen sizes, and it also makes managing your SEO strategy easier.