If you haven’t picked up on it yet, we’re crazy about responsive web design here at Attome. There are many reasons why responsive web design just feels better at an instinctual level. But the strength of responsive design isn’t only skin deep. The fact is that responsive design also has a big impact on your site SEO and SERP (Search Engine Results Page).
Responsive design is still a fairly new idea, but many of the top search engines have already adopted responsive design as a benchmark for improved user experiences. Search companies like Google have noted the mobile revolution for many reasons. One of the main reasons is that they see some of their most promising growth opportunities in the mobile ad delivery market.
Because of this, they are keenly interested in how mobile users interact with the web. Google’s efforts to do so involves two main areas: crawl statistics and mobile user statistics.
Googlebot prefers Responsive Design
One of the fundamental reasons behind the power of responsive design is its unified code base. In the early days of the mobile internet, web pages would have two or more versions of the site. One for desktop and more for mobile platforms.
The problem with this setup is that search engine crawlers like a simple and clear page hierarchy. Another consequence of multiple sites is that they duplicate content on each of the site versions. This is another factor that can lead Google crawlers to downgrade a site.
When you have multiple versions of a site, the crawler must individually navigate each of these pages. This slows it down and decreases the likelihood of a good site ranking. A responsive design uses a single URL and code base for all devices. This makes for a speedier crawl and thus higher page rankings.
Google prefers original, non-duplicate content when it judges the desirability of the content offered. With a single, responsive site, you can guarantee that none of the content will be duplicated and harm your rankings.
Tracking Mobile Behavior
Google’s rankings are also based on how mobile users interact with web pages. Google wants to know how the user experience is on mobile compared to those on desktop setups. Therefore, Google looks primarily at the bounce rate and its difference between mobile and non-mobile.
They do this in order to get an idea of whether a site is mobile-friendly or not. Data collected by Google has suggested that 61% of mobile users who encounter a non-responsive website will immediately go to a competitor’s site. Google tracks this behavior to improve its SERP to better rank relevant content. They may deem your site as not relevant to the keywords used because of a high bounce rate.
One thing we frequently run into here at Attome is a mismatch in the value proposition offered by responsive web design. On its face, sure, it makes web pages pretty and more accessible, but what is its practical value?
As evidenced by the above, responsive web design is not merely a slick reiteration of design practice. Ultimately, it has a relevant and lasting impact on SEO and your SERP.