Surges in the popularity of tablets has begun to have a significant impact on revenue, with mobile sales recently overtaking that of desktop. Coupled with this, usage of tablets has been predicted to surpass desktop by the end of the year. Unsurprisingly, business are now flocking to sort out the mobile versions of their site. The big question is; friendly or responsive? The answer is that they each have their pros and cons, so you really have to put the question in context. Search Factory have done this, asking: which is better in regards to SEO? The answer invariably comes back responsive, and here’s why.
1. Google Says So!
Even if you hate Google you’d be making a serious mistake to ignore its advice, considering it’s the benevolent force behind search. Responsive sites have just one URL and HTML format, making it far easier for Google to crawl and index. When a business has a completely separate mobile friendly site, it’s effectively forcing Google to crawl multiple versions. Consequently, it not only considers responsive web design to be best industry practice, but actively favours it when presenting results for mobile searches.
2. One URL & HTML Format
When you build a responsive site it’s effectively an extension of the existing, carrying all the authority and weight of the parent. Having a completely separate mobile site means building the authority from scratch, impacting heavily on rankings. From a social perspective, a responsive site allows you to garner shares on a single URL, making all content clear and easy to navigate.
3. Sharing Content
On top of the SEO benefits of responsive web design, it affords a more enhanced user experience across a variety of devices and screen sizes. Responsive sites make finding and sharing content far easier for searchers, which Google advocates and arguably incorporates into the algorithm. In a perfect world, any searcher browsing a website via their mobile or tablet will receive the same content in the same format as the desktop version. Since it’s impossible to know every screen or device a searcher will use to access your site, having a responsive design that caters to these variables will provide a more consistent experience.
4. Combats a high Bounce Rate
A high bounce rate can be a serious issue for many sites lacking an optimised mobile version, especially if the experience provided is dissimilar to what’s offered on the desktop site. Google takes this as an indication the site isn’t offering high quality content to searchers, often dishing out a drop in the rankings as punishment. Responsive web design presents all content in exactly the same manner, simply altering the dimensions to reflect the screen size of the user. This means a responsive sites bounce rate should be similar or exactly the same as its desktop counterpart.
The Bottom Line
Responsive design has fewer SEO shortcomings than a lightweight mobile version. It’s recommended by Google, provides a greater user experience across multiple devices and screen sizes, as well as expediting your SEO efforts.
Consequently, it’s your best option for a mobile SEO strategy!
About the Author
Matt Anderson is a Search Marketing Consultant at Brisbane SEO agency Search Factory. You can continue the conversation with Matt via LinkedIn.