Now that websites are increasingly accessed from mobile devices, it no longer works to simply have a static website that only looks stunning or functions well on a computer screen. And, if you care about the user experience and your search engine rankings, you probably want your website to work across all devices.
But putting up a website with a single column isn’t the answer, either. Here is what you need to know about responsive web design and some of the ways it can impact your SEO efforts.
What is Responsive Web Design?
Responsive web design is a web design approach that allows your content to adapt to the various window and screen sizes of different devices.
For example, your content might be separated into five columns on a desktop device because there is plenty of room to accommodate this. But that same layout wouldn’t work on an iPhone or tablet.
Responsive design is not quite the same as adaptive design. Adaptive design generates templates and delivers different versions of the same page. In contrast, responsive design is a single design that “reflows” across different displays. The CSS code controls the layout and rendering of the page based on the screen size.
Why You Need a Responsive Website
Responsive design matters for several reasons. First, people don’t access websites from a single device, and they expect a usable and engaging experience whether they click on your link from their desktop, laptop, smartphone, or iPad.
In fact, more people than ever are accessing websites from mobile devices, making having a responsive design vital for the user experience. Statistics show that more than half (52%) of web traffic now comes from mobile devices, so it’s vital that you meet consumers where they are.
The other reason that you need to make responsiveness a priority is that Google has made it a priority. Almost five years ago, Google announced it’s mobile-first indexing, meaning the search engine would begin giving priority to websites that are responsive and mobile-friendly.
What’s even more important to understand is that, a few years ago, Google began indexing and ranking pages based on how the content loads and appears on a mobile device. This is why they call it “mobile-first.”
5 Ways Responsive Web Design Can Impact SEO
Your brand’s website is its online storefront. Hopefully, everyone can find the door no matter what device they’re using. The digital SEO landscape continues to change, but incorporating responsive web design should be a vital part of your digital marketing strategy.
Here are five ways that responsive web design can impact your SEO efforts:
1. Site Usability
If your site isn’t usable, people won’t use it. That sounds like a simple concept, but many businesses fail to create websites that are simple to read and navigate.
Responsive web design simply leads to a better user experience. So much so that people will spend longer on your site, be return visitors, and even tell others about your brand. As you get more traffic, this can also improve your rankings.
2. Page Load Speed
A website that was designed for a desktop will load incredibly slow on a mobile device. This is frustrating for your visitors, but there’s another reason you should care - Google uses page speed as a ranking factor.
When you have a responsive web design, your page load speed will be much faster. Mobile sites won’t require as many resources to load, and this will help your search engine rankings.
3. Bounce Rate
When visitors exit your website from the same page they entered or spend a short time visiting, your bounce rate is going to skyrocket. When Google sees that you have a high bounce rate, this could impact your rankings.
Why? Google’s goal is to deliver a positive experience to the customer. If it believes you aren’t delivering what you promise for any reason, through content or poor web design, you could be penalized.
4. Duplicate Content
Another thing that Google doesn’t like is duplicate content. If you have a separate mobile website with different URLs than your main website, the search engine might interpret those pages as being duplicate content. You can solve this issue by using responsive web design instead.
5. Social Media
While social sharing isn’t a direct ranking factor, it can help build awareness for your brand and increase your traffic. When you have a responsive website, it’s much easier for visitors to share your content on social media.
When the search engines see that you are getting social shares, they may interpret that as your brand, website, and content is something that can be trusted. But, if your site isn’t responsive and visitors have a tough time sharing anything, it could send the opposite message.
Is Your Current Website Responsive?
If you’re not sure whether or not your current website is responsive, test it. One thing you can do is pull it up on multiple devices like your laptop and phone. Is it readable and easy to navigate?
You can also test whether your site is mobile-friendly with Google’s mobile-friendly test. Just enter the URL, click “test URL,” and you’ll get the results.
Finally, you can use the Chrome developer tools to test your site using different screen sizes. On a Windows computer, hit CTRL+Shift+I or Command+Option+I on a Mac to open the window. Then, choose the device and test your design’s responsiveness.
When it comes to delivering the best user experience and pleasing the search engines at the same time, you have a lot on your plate. Whether your current website is mobile-friendly or could use a few tweaks, we can help.
Connection Model specializes in a wide range of digital marketing solutions that deliver results for our clients. Contact us today to learn or request a free assessment of your website.
Written By: David Carpenter