Google Prefer Responsive Websites

Is your website mobile ready?

If not, you are about to take a significant hit on search engine traffic. From April 21st 2015, Google will be expanding the use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in google search results

Preparing for the Update

Google has been telling webmasters to prepare for mobile for years, now. Thanks to the announcement of the Mobile Search update, many webmasters now have a compelling reason to take action. If you find yourself scrambling to be mobile-friendly and can’t decide between a dedicated mobile or responsive design, it makes sense to weigh the pros and cons of each before making a decision:

One method is to create dedicated mobile versions of your website but this is increasingly ‘old hat’ and we prefer to deliver responsive websites which collapse and adjust for the target device, adapting instantly to suit the viewing device.

Design

“Mobile-only” designs are relatively simple to build and generally economical in development cost. Responsive websites are more complicated to build; having a higher upfront cost. One important consideration is the “lifetime” cost.

Over time, it can be much more cost-effective to build a responsive website and optimize it for all standard resolutions. This also means that future updates related to content are to be done at one place instead of multiple versions of the website(s) that cater to each screen width.

Search Engine Optimisation

Most mobile sites are built on a subdomain, m.domain.com. If you choose to go that route, remember to utilize canonical tags pointing to the desktop URL for duplicate mobile pages. This resolves potential duplicate content issues. Don’t put canonical tags on unique mobile content. Both the mobile and the desktop pages can rank for competitive phrases. Responsive sites require no special SEO consideration beyond normal best practices.

Linking

From a practical perspective, link-building to one site is more productive and cost-effective than building links to two sites. Mobile link-building is different from traditional link-building and requires a different approach. A responsive design mitigates running a second campaign.

Overall Sales

Statistics gathered by a variety of companies show that mobile sites have much better conversion rates. This goes back to the fact these sites are designed only for mobile platforms. They tend to load faster and are easier to navigate. In short, they offer a better mobile user experience than responsive designs.

Preparing for Future Updates

Does your site meet the Mobile-Friendly test? Even if your site makes the grade today, there’s no guarantee that it will continue to stand up to future changes. Staying on top of mobile search trends needs to be a priority item. Mobile designs may not be fully compatible with future mobile browsers or devices. Responsive websites, on the other hand, will most likely be able to work with newer browsers and devices, so they’re more of a one-time investment.

So Which Is Better?

So which type of website is best for you? If you’re still uncertain, here are the highlights of both types of sites:

Pros of Mobile Sites:

  • Can be customized for mobile users
  • Should be the most mobile-friendly version of a site
  • Easier and cheaper to design

Cons of Mobile Sites:

  • Recurring maintenance
  • Higher costs for updating the content of multiple websites
  • May need to be reworked to meet future browsers

Pros of Responsive Web Design:

  • Highly flexible – one responsive website works on all devices, so only one site has to be created and maintained
  • This is Google’s recommended configuration
  • Can be a better return on investment since most responsive sites won’t need much future maintenance to comply with new browsers

Cons of Responsive Web Design:

  • More expensive upfront cost
  • Doesn’t convert as well

The Bottom Line

It truly depends on what your site is focused on and what you need it to do. Make your website user-friendly, helpful, and relevant and you will have the opportunity to rank in Google organic search, regardless of the website type.

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