Responsive web design is, many will agree, the future of web design as a whole. In the era when the communication is getting increasingly mobile based, the need to have a unified internet experience is becoming very prominent – web sites must be able to present their content in an equally elegant way on desktop, tablet and mobile phone.
Separate versions of web sites are an option, but the SEO experts, including the famous Matt Cutts, almost unanimously (with the exception of a couple of sceptics) agree that responsive web design is the way to go. Here are some of the benefits of this approach which might help you decide if you want your web site to feature a responsive layout.
Planning responsive SEO strategy
We already mentioned that mobile phones are, for many people, the default way of accessing the internet. Therefore, in relation to SEO strategy, it makes sense to pay attention to the way in which Google handles mobile searches.
The things are pretty straight forward in this respect. Google wants you to make responsive web pages and specifically points out that the mobile-friendly pages will be better ranked in mobile searches. No room for discussion here – a responsible SEO strategist will always listen to Google first.
Bounce rate on small screen
In regards to the returning visitors, it is sensible to think that, already having visited a website on their desktops, they will expect to see a similar experience on their mobile devices as well. Google has a way of taking notice of their satisfaction with a website (one of which is detecting when the frustrated visitor immediately pressed the back button to leave the page) so it is essential to offer the similar experience across the devices and avoid this potential problem.
Responsive link building
Link building being one of the main SEO strategies, it is important to discuss the effects responsive layouts might have on it. If you have different versions of websites for each platform you will miss the benefit of having a link you created lead to all ‘incarnations’ of your content. The practical and economical aspect of this is very visible – it saves link builders time and is generally more effective.
How about the duplicate content?
It is common knowledge by now that Google Panda does not like duplicate content, and this has lead many SEO amateurs to think that having a desktop and mobile versions of your site might be potentially detrimental to your SEO efforts.
While we need to point out that in this specific case Panda ignores duplicate content (so, no need to worry about this aspect of the problem), having two versions of everything on your website can confuse your visitors and sometimes lead them to wrong, unoptimized pages which is ultimately bad for you.
Consider a person browsing the internet on their smartphone and sharing a link on Facebook, oblivious of the fact that they shared a mobile version. If the website is not properly set up, desktop visitors following the link will end up on an ugly looking page which might lead them to think the whole website is much worse than it really is.
To sum up, these are just some of the considerations when it comes to the nature of the relation between responsive web design and SEO. The verdict seems pretty clear and the reasoning behind it is clear as well – you should go responsive, because Google says so.
Image Source: NVP Exhibits