Can you imagine if Google, and other search engines, were faced with the reality of every site having a separate experience for desktop and mobile users? Which site would be worthy of an inbound link? How would site rank be determined? Would mobile sites ever be ranked in search? And if so, what would be weight be? With all those hypothetical questions, it was important for developers and the web site design world to create a platform that could encompass desktop + mobile site needs.
Enter responsive web design.
Responsive web design (RWD) enables web designers to create one layout for a site that responds & adapts to the screen size and platform of the site visitor. This type of design is generally a good fit for designing desktop + mobile friendly sites. In fact, RWD is Google’s official recommendation for mobile development and enhanced mobile SEO.
So now that you know a little more about RWD, why is it a good idea from the eyes of search marketers? One reason is the URL. With a consistent URL for desktop and mobile users and desktop and mobile search bots, your site has uniformity making for better user interaction, easier for Google’s link algorithms to work with and, along with the same HTML, increased crawler efficiency.
As we discussed as a benefit for social media, links with RWD sites also benefit SEO. As mentioned before, the alternative method to RWD is to develop separate sites to meet a variety of device needs. From an SEO perspective, multiple sites presents a link building challenge of dedicating efforts for each sites or using redirects to point site visitors to the correct version of the site – mobile, desktop, tablet. Enter the benefit of RWD – one site, means one set of links and no redirects. An additional linking benefit it maintaining the link equity for your site. With multiple sites, you are in affect spreading out the link equity across multiple sites rather than increasing the link value of one site. By using RWD for your site, you establish link equity to a single version of your site, which produces stronger signals and better page rank than separate sites would have alone.
While responsive web design provides many benefits for designing a site for easy transition from desktop to mobile, it is critical to evaluate your project to ensure that a RWD site is the best fit. For example, if you know your clients or consumers are looking for specific items on your site when using their mobile device, it might be a best fit to have a separate mobile site highlighting those features. However, developing a responsive web designed site will benefit those customers who click “view full site” from the mobile view. Additional benefits of a RWD site include improved landing pages PPC ads and display ads, as well as mobile friendly pages for email links and social media posts that users click through on mobile devices.