The debate between whether to choose a responsive website or a separate mobile website is a highly discussed topic. Having said that, the fact is that both choices have their advantages and disadvantages.
The option that is perfect for your business will depend on numerous factors, for example the purpose of the website, the intended target audience, and whether SEO is a factor.
If SEO is a factor, here are three main reasons why responsive web design is the best option for your mobile SEO strategy.
Recommended By Google
With 67 % search market share , when Google speaks, search marketers listen. Google says that responsive web design is its recommended mobile configuration, and also goes so far as to refer to responsive web design as being the industry`s best practice.
This is because responsive design sites have one URL and the same HTML, no matter what device, making it easier and much more efficient for Google to crawl, index, and arrange content. Contrast this with a separate mobile site that has a different URL and different HTML than its desktop counterpart, needing Google to crawl and index numerous versions of the same site.
Additionally, Google favors responsive web design because content that lives on one website and one URL is a lot simpler for users to share, interact with, and link to, compared to content that lives on a separate mobile site.
Take for instance a mobile user who shares content from a mobile site with a friend on Facebook who then accesses that content using a desktop, resulting in that user seeing a stripped down mobile site on their desktop. This creates a less than optimal user-experience, and because of the large emphasis Google is currently placing on user-experience as a ranking factor, this is important to take into account with regards to SEO.
One Website, Many Devices
One of the most attractive factors of responsive web design is that a responsive website provides a great user-experience across numerous devices and screen sizes. This is an important characteristic, because it is impossible to anticipate all of the devices and screen sizes visitors will use to access your web site. A site that functions properly regardless of these variables will give you a much better and more consistent user-experience than a separate mobile site that is meant for a specific device and screen size.
Let’s take the following example. Someone searches for a product on their smartphone during a lunch break at work. They find a site which has the product they are looking for, and choose to continue researching the product on the same site when they go back home. Except, when they get home, they will use their desktop instead of their smartphone.
If the site in this example is responsive, this person will have a positive user-experience when moving from mobile to desktop because they will view the same site on their desktop as they did on their smartphone. However, if the site is a dedicated mobile site, this person will end up frustrated with the fact that they have to find the desktop version of the site, and find the item all over again.
Easier to Manage
Having a separate desktop and mobile site requires having separate SEO campaigns. Managing a single site and one SEO campaign will be much easier than managing a couple of sites and two SEO campaigns. This is the important advantage a responsive website has over a separate mobile site.
That being said, there are advantages to having a mobile-specific SEO strategy, such as optimizing for keywords which are more likely to be searched when someone is on their smartphone.
Such as, someone performing a mobile search for a local restaurant might be more inclined to use the word “nearby” in their search query. However, a separate mobile site is not a requirement for a mobile SEO strategy, and there is no reason why mobile-specific keywords can't be incorporated into a responsive design site too.
Responsive web design highly recommended by Google, it enables one website to provide a fantastic user-experience across many devices and screen sizes, and it also makes managing your SEO strategy less difficult. For all of these reasons, responsive web design is the best option for your mobile SEO strategy.
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