Responsive Web Design is the in-thing right now in the webosphere. Although not for everyone, RWD is here to stay and will have a significant effect on the methods of information consumption on the internet.
There are millions of smart mobile devices activated every day, all of which have the capability to access internet. Thus, it wouldn’t be wrong to assume that internet consumption is becoming primarily a mobile activity. According to the data revealed by Statcounter, 17.4% of internet traffic came from mobile devices in 2013, which is a 6% increase since 2012, when the same figure stood at 11.1%. These statistics are indicative of the increased importance of a mobile-first strategy while designing websites.
The explosion of mobile devices on the scene is accompanied by the dilemma of creating a separate website for each of the different screen sizes, resolutions and form factors.
Responsive design is the buzzword that promises to save the web designers from this dicey situation. In simple words, responsive web design opposes the concept of separate mobile, tablet and PC versions of your site; instead it helps creating a site that adapts to the screen size on which it is being accessed making the entire content visible in a readable way.
Since website design is an important part of any company’s online marketing campaign, it is indeed interesting to note the effect of responsive web design (RWD) on SEO. While the concept of RWD is still evolving, webmasters and online marketers have observed it to have certain SEO benefits as listed below:
Google loves it
SEO is all about following what Google loves to call best practices and using responsive web design is just one of them. In an official statement Google has clearly stated its recommendation for webmasters to implement responsive web design and using the same design code (HTML) across all devices, using only CSS media queries to decide the rendering on each device.
The responsive design presents the webmaster with the ability to use the same desktop URL for his mobile site, rather than using a separate mobile URL. In terms of SEO, it should help your site gain better rankings over a site that has separate regular and mobile version as all the link juice is channeled into a single URL, instead of splitting in two different URLs.
Improves the bounce rate
The core focus of responsive web design is to improve the user experience and readability of the page while viewing it on different mobile devices. If a site looks good, behaves well and performs satisfactorily, users will stay on it for a longer period of time thereby improving its bounce rate, which in any case is a good thing for your site and it’s SEO.
Saves on SEO efforts, time and cost
Anyone who has dabbled in SEO will tell you that it is a time consuming process that also involves significant financial resources. Repeating all your SEO efforts for a mobile site doesn’t make sense. . Optimizing one site is hard enough, let alone trying to optimize two different sites at the same site.
On the other hand, if you choose responsive design, all the initiatives taken for SEO on desktop site will also apply to the mobile version of your site. This also applies to the cumbersome link building process. The entire link portfolio that you build for the main site will also apply as it is to your mobile site.
Avoids duplicate content
By creating two sites for the same business, you risk placing some duplicate content on one of these sites. Even if you change the entire content, it would eat up a lot of your time and money (unless you multitask as a content writer). With similar content placed at two different places, you could guide the visitors to the wrong version of the site. Those webmasters who replicate the content of their desktop website on their mobile version also run the risk of ruining the credibility of the mobile site from search engine’s perspective. Applying responsive design mitigates such risky behavior.
If you have two separate sites, updating will be a two-course process which is not only annoying but can also result in serious messing up of the SEO of your main site. However, with responsive design, there is only one site to be updated and hence, there is a less chance to make significant mistakes.
The future design jobs will prominently require aspirants to be aware of the fundamental concepts and best practices of SEO. As such, knowledge of RWD and its effect on SEO is a must.