In today’s competitive digital landscape, responsive web design isn’t a luxury, it’s a downright necessity. Mobile has emerged as a critical component for web browsing and digital commerce, with over 60% of queries within search engines coming from mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones.
What does all this have to do with SEO?
Responsive web design, which once was an innovative design tactic, has now become a standard among web designers and web design platforms alike. With Google’s recent move to a “mobile first” index, responsive design could never be as important for SEO as it is today.
According to a Study Conducted by GOOGLE:
- 61% of users would abandon the site right away if it wasn’t mobile optimized
- 50% of users said that even if they liked a brand they would use them less frequently if the mobile experience was poor
- 36% feel they “wasted their time” if a site isn’t mobile friendly
- 48% said if the site didn’t work well on their tablets or smartphones, it made them feel like the brand did not care about its reputation, company or customers.
Top 5 SEO benefits of Responsive Web Design
1. Mobile First
Responsive web design has become just as important a priority as search engine optimization, and quality content. As of April 2018, Google has implemented the use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal and has been forthright with their move to a “mobile first” index. This means that if your site is NOT optimized for mobile as a priority, all things being equal, the competitor’s site that is, will likely outrank you in their index.
2. Eliminate Duplicate Content
You may or may not be guilty of this, but many companies have been utilizing both a desktop version of a website and a mobile version. At times this leads to duplicate content across the web. Remember, to Google bots, any distinct URL is considered a unique page/site.
In the above case, you’ll notice one version of the site is for “desktop” and the other for “mobile”. Google’s crawlers do not understand that those are the same brand, and as such, you may be hit with duplicate content penalties unless other measures are taken. Working from a “mobile first” perspective allows you to consolidate your content to a single unique URL.
3. Lower Bounce Rate
User behavior and visitor statistics on your pages matter. Remember, Google’s goal is to make sure sites providing the best user experience possible, for each given search query, rank the highest.
Indicators of a poor experience may include:
- High bounce rates
- Low time spent on page/site
- The low number of page views
- The low number of clicks
Based on the aforementioned Google study, we know that users will NOT stay on, nor use your site, to complete their search objective if it offers up a poor mobile experience. One of the core metrics this will affect is the bounce rate (i.e. how fast visitors leave your site after determining it’s not what they want).
The quicker they leave your website, the higher the bounce rate. This is a metric search engine pay attention to, especially Google. Search engines correlate this metric with how relevant or irrelevant your content is for visitors, as well as its quality.
A properly optimized mobile site will be intuitive, engaging and will present and provide information in an easy to read and digest way, leading to increased interactions and time spent on pages.
4. Faster Loading Speeds
According to Hubspot (and a number of other studies), if your site is taking more than three seconds to load, you could be losing anywhere from 40-50% of your visitors. Yet another study by Kissmetrics shows that around 79% of visitors dissatisfied with your site’s performance (read “site speed”) will be less likely to visit again.
Optimizing page load speeds has a well-documented linear impact on the customer’s perceived positive experience on your site. Not only that, Google has been very public with the fact that load speed is a ranking signal in their algorithms.
As a business owner, you’ll definitely want to make sure your website is mobile-friendly and responsive. And remember, just because your site loads well on a desktop does NOT mean it will do the same on a 3G mobile device in the suburbs or smaller cities and towns.
5. User Experience
When you take into consideration the visitors and their expectation of experience of a webpage, the user experience is, and should be, a priority over fancy designs and UI structures.
Ensuring the user experience is a priority comes down to structure, navigation, mobile friendliness and ease of access. Responsive web design makes your site mobile-friendly and prioritizes both readability and navigation for your visitors.
Google recognizes usability by looking into a few key metrics such as the time spent on a webpage. While no one is privy to the exact weighting of such performance indicators in the algorithms, they most certainly play a role in how your site ranks. User experience and user interface should be taken as seriously as other traditional on and off-page SEO efforts.