In the current age of mobile device use, webmasters are having to adapt to the latest mobile trends in order to remain competitive. However, as many as 66 percent of mobile device users are frustrated due to slow website load times. As a result, 16 percent of mobile users say they will give up on a site if it takes too long to load, while 48 percent say they feel as though a company simply doesn’t care about them if their website doesn’t work properly on a mobile device. To combat these statistics, web masters are turning to the latest design trend– responsive web design.
“It is absolutely paramount for businesses to have a mobile web presence in the digital age. Mobile web searches are predicted to surpass computer queries in 2014, which means that, not only should mobile capabilities be standard for today’s companies, websites and content should be optimized for mobile searches in order to capitalize on the potential SEO arising from mobile users,” says Madeline Baker, Visual Content Specialist for UrbanBound. “Furthermore, developing that content for mobile viewing through responsive design allows businesses to gain a competitive edge against others in similar industries or user spaces.”
Implementing SEO for Mobile Trends
Although a mobile-friendly website is now essential, a study involving over 5,000 mobile users concluded 48 percent of websites still aren’t optimized for mobile devices. As the need for mobile-friendly websites with a responsive design continues to rise, how to implement SEO into the new trends continues to be questioned.
“In terms of SEO, the search engines aren’t going to index you better if your site is or isn’t responsive. Responsiveness is often found in the CSS of the site and has nothing to do with how a search engine is going to list your site,” says Rodkem Matthews of RKC Design. “But, since so many people are using mobile devices, phones, pads, etc, it is
a good idea to have a responsive design that is set up properly. Google has recently announced that it will begin demoting sites in mobile search if they have a poor mobile experience.”
Many webmasters have yet to take hold of a responsive design because of the complexity involved in developing a quick load time due to the browser having to download and contend an HTML file. This requires extra caution when using certain scripts, CSS, and images. To speed up the load time, many are choosing to avoid these resources all together, instead focusing on complex code. Or, sites are using small HTML with scripts to allow more HTML of larger screens.
“As the digital divide evolves and segments web searches over different devices, there is an increased necessity for adaptable websites that are cleanly viewed on each device. It used to be enough to simply have a mobile site, but a mobile site is no longer enough,“ says Jayme Pretzloff, Director of Marketing. “Rather than developing a site for each device, a responsive site is designed to adapt to the browser size and make for a great experience for your user, reducing bounce rates. It is a great use for not only a user interface perspective but also for SEO because it will help your site perform better with increased visits, better SERP rankings, more return visits, and more shares.”
However, responsive sites can lead to performances problems by certain scripts being blocked, delaying browser optimizations. Due to the hassle, some site owners are choosing to stick with a dedicated mobile website, causing them to have to manage two separate platforms for both desktop and mobile device. However, the method you choose to use will play a role in your SEO.
“Responsive design is a good approach to take for mobile SEO, but it is not the only approach. Responsive design works well for simple sites like blogs or content sites, but often becomes too complicated for complex sites,” says Takeshi Young, SEO Team Lead for EntirelyPets.com. “Dynamic serving or mobile specific sites (e.g. m.site.com) often outperform responsive sites in usability and speed, and can be used to create a tailored experience for mobile users.”
So, how do you choose which mobile site version will be better for SEO? Although webmasters have yet to fully be convinced, Internet Marketers all tend to agree, responsive is the way to go.
“Responsive design definitely affects your SEO standing, both directly and indirectly. Directly, the algorithm knows if your site is optimized in some form for mobile, whether this is a responsive site or a separate mobile site. Your mobile rankings will depend on this, which can have a big impact on traffic, since many sites already experience more than 50% of their traffic from mobile,” says Kenny Kline, Serial Tech entrepreneur and founder of Slumber Sage. “Indirectly, the poor user experience of not having a site that works well on mobile will show in your user experience, and thus affect your SEO. For example, you’ll almost certainly experience a higher bounce rate without a good mobile experience, which will translate into your SEO rankings.”
However, using the two can be quite tricky, especially with a responsive design, which is why some webmasters are straying from the two. Not to mention, the two don’t necessarily aid SEO as Google still has a difficult time indexing correctly.
The Need for Adaptively
Due to the complexity, possible errors, and lack of SEO capabilities, some web designers lean towards HTML markups to keep the user experience adaptive.
“Why Responsive Design is Important” Visually
“Responsive Web Design Stats: What you should know” Business2Community.com
“Responsive Web Design Makes it Hard to be Fast” Guypo.com
“Applying AJAX to a PHP App to Make it Highly Responsive” InformIt.com
“Creating a Mobile-First Responsive Design” HTML5Rocks.com