How Responsive Design Affects Website SEO Ranking
Mobile devices account for around half of website views and well over half of Internet searches. And even though smartphones have been used to browse the net for almost a decade now, many web pages do not accommodate for their needs.
Responsive design is an essential factor when it comes to building a website in this day and age. Some sites are impossible to read on smartphone screens. They are not responsive, which means that they do not perform equally well across platforms.
The bad thing is that if your website is not optimized for smartphones, it will be lost in the millions of search results. And everyone knows that no-one ever looks past the first page. If you do not want your website to stay in the shadows of the second page of Google, you need to improve your SEO ranking. There are many SEO criteria that you need to consider, and the website’s responsiveness is certainly one of them. Google has itself said that responsiveness is one of its 200 ranking factors.
How can you optimize your website for different devices?
Obviously, not all screens have the same dimensions, and your website needs to account for those differences. Otherwise, your website’s content is not going to fit the screen properly and it will be impossible to use. Before you address other problems your site might have, first you need to make sure that everyone can use it.
There are three ways to optimize the website for smartphones. One of the ways is to keep the same URL and codes for all devices, but change the way it looks. The other way is to have the same URL but different codes for desktop and mobile users. Alternatively, you can have two separate URLs and different codes or simply two independent websites (with the same content).
It is impossible to say which solution is the best since they serve different needs. It is a decision you need to make for yourself (hopefully, with a competent web designer by your side). No matter what you choose, the end goal is the same – it is going to help you rank better in search results.
A responsive design means no duplicate content. The problem with duplicate content may occur if different URLs have the same material. The number of clicks gets divided between multiple versions of the same page, and none of them ends up ranking high. Considering that the ranking of the website is based on the number of clicks the page gets, it can be difficult for search engines to decide which version is more relevant to a given search.
As mentioned, if your website is not mobile-optimized then it can look very messy on a smartphone device. Most people will not return to a website after they had a bad user experience. It is a risk you should not take. If your site has a responsive design, it will automatically be resized to fit the screen of all the devices. It means that all the people that might have left your website because it was difficult to use will stay. They might even use the website again and therefore help you rank higher in search engines.
Besides having returning users, your website can suffer from a high bounce rate. SEO webmasters use the term “bounce” when referring to someone who visits a website and leaves it without interacting with it any further. As mentioned, mobile users make up about half of web page viewers, and you don’t want half of your visitors to leave immediately. If you haven’t designed the website for all its users, it might happen quite often. Consequently, a high bounce reflects on your search engine performance. It tells Google that your website was not able to answer the users’ inquiries and thus has no place on the first page of its search results.
If you care about how responsive your website is, it means you should care about its loading time. Google favors sites with a faster load time because that is what users prefer. Even if the content is excellent and useful but takes forever to load, most of the users will give up on it.
We live in the age of social media and constant sharing. If you have a good website and people are engaging with it, they will want to share it by posting about your website on their Twitter or Facebook feeds. While social media doesn’t directly affect your SEO ranking, more social shares mean more people find your website. The more people know about your site, the higher is the possibility that they are going to interact with it. Correlation isn’t direct causation but what’s so bad about correlation?
We have talked about both offsite and onsite factors of website optimization. And It is important to keep in mind that Google’s algorithms are updated regularly for the benefit of the users and to make search results more personalized for each user