Responsive Is Google’s Recommended Mobile Site Type
“Google recommends webmasters follow the industry best practice of using responsive web design, namely serving the same HTML for all devices and using only CSS media queries to decide the rendering on each device.” – Google
That’s Google doing you a favor; they’ve eliminated some ‘tea leaf reading’ from your search optimization needs. They’ve issued a series of pronouncements stating their preference” for responsive mobile websites and describing how Google will deliver results to mobile/tablet users going forward. Google has flat out stated that responsive web design is their preferred mobile configuration and categorized responsive design as a mobile best practice. “Click here to watch the No, Responsive Can’t Hurt Your SEO” video
Google, the company that controls roughly 67% of all search related Internet traffic, has a clearly stated preference for ranking and delivering responsive websites: but why do they?
Why Responsive Design is Better for Search Optimization
- It Eliminates Duplicate Content: When your site has a responsive design, every page of content has one URL; so unless you’re an e-commerce shop, duplicate content penalties won’t be an issue.
- It Can’t Suffer from Link Dilution (as in the example above): You’ve probably heard the phrase “Link Juice” before? Well, having a responsive website allows all of that SEO juice to flow into your website efficiently. Since you’ll only have one website, all your backlinks and social mentions (Facebook Shares, Tweets and ReTweets, Google+1s, etc.) will be aimed at one website.
- It Offers “Instant” Mobile Page Authority: Because your responsive website won’t need to be ranked separately there won’t be lag time between launch and when it benefits from the equity your brand already has online.
- It’s Specifically Tablet Compatible: In addition to their statements promoting responsive design generally, Google’s been unusually direct about how it ranks and returns search results to mobile/tablet users of late. Saying for instance, that users with mobile devices that can’t read Flash will no longer see websites that use Flash in their search results. It hardly requires a Ouija board to see how policies along those lines will be applied to sites with tablet specific versions vs. those without. With responsive that won’t be an issue, since every category of device can be covered, tablet users can be offered an experience that’s just as fulfilling as phone or desktop users.
- It Leverages UX as a Rankings Factor and Eliminates Backlink Confusion: There will only be one site for Google to send phone, tablet and desktop users to for a maximal user experience and only one set of links and social rankings signals pointing back to it to measure and rank based upon.
In conclusion: Google recommends using responsive design because it allows a single website to offer a visitor an optimal user-experience regardless of their device or its screen size. It also leverages typically ignored SEO factors while making it easier for Google to assess a website for standard search rankings metrics. Having a responsive website might not fix all of your optimization issues, but it has to be a central component of any mobile conscious SEO strategy.