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5 Ways Responsive Web Design Benefits Your SEO

by Nina Ritz, from DesignRush, on Jul 16
It’s crucial to devote your time and energy to deliver a high-quality mobile experience for your users. Having a responsible and flexible web design can be a great starting point when it comes to boosting your rankings.
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Taking proper care of the mobile version of your website has become extremely important over the course of the last several years. Mobile browsing has been on a rise and it’s predicted that mobile data traffic in 2021 will be 7 times higher than traffic recorded in 2014. In addition, before the end of 2016, mobile browsing has finally exceeded that of desktop computers, and there’s really no sign whatsoever that this trend can be reverted.

It’s crucial to devote your time and energy to deliver a high-quality mobile experience for your users. Given the latest trends, there are many reasons to do this, and one of the most important is the optimization of your website for search engines. Having a responsible and flexible web design can be a great starting point when it comes to boosting your rankings. Here’s how it works.

1. Mobile-first indexing

This year, Google has announced that they will start applying mobile-first indexing. In practice, this means that the mobile version of a website will become more important than the desktop version when determining the rankings. Google’s algorithm will take it as a basis for its calculations and, in a way, it will be considered a primary version of your site.

When it comes to search engine ranking, all the included factors basically come down to a single one – user experience. And that’s where responsive web design comes into play. With a design that’s smart and flexible enough your site will be much easier to read and navigate, which directly influences how Google rates it. Their instructions are quite strict and specific in this respect. Given the increased importance of mobile user experience, we might expect website development and design agencies to put more emphasis on this branch of their work in the following period.

There’s a number of design-related factors you should pay attention to in order to improve your rankings, from placement of crucial info and clear labeling to the intelligent use of space on normally smaller screens of mobile devices.

However, it’s vital to point out that responsive web design was significant for websites’ rankings even before the idea of mobile-first indexing was put into action. Bad design can also be indirectly responsible for the failure of your SEO efforts. There are some issues caused by non-responsive web design that could further ruin your rankings, such as slow page load or duplicate content. Let’s have a brief overview of the few most important of these issues.

2. Page load time

Responsiveness of your web design is usually tightly related to the amount of time a page needs to load on mobile devices. And the speed of your website has been a factor in determining the rankings for years now, either directly or indirectly. And with the “speed update” that will be put into effect in July 2018, it will become very costly to have a slow mobile website. A slow website will also increase your bounce rate, which is another factor taken into account by the Google’s algorithm. Namely, around 50 percent of mobile users tend to abandon the page that takes 10 or more second to load.

3. Time on page

Another consequence of a website that’s not mobile-friendly is that they can be difficult to operate. People don’t have the patience to roam around a website that’s unresponsive and that turns out to be a nightmare to navigate. It’s not just time-wasting but kind of irritating as well. And in an era where a lot of brands and individuals are investing a lot of money and resources to make their pages fit mobile devices perfectly, users won’t be staying around your website for long. Of course, all this doesn’t do good things for your rankings.

4. Duplicate content

When it comes to SEO, having a unique web design that’s responsive and able to fit different devices beats having two separate websites on two different domains. This happens on at least two levels, the first one being the issue of duplicate content. Suppose you have two identical websites on two URLs, one designed for desktop users and the other one, usually with an “m.” prefix, designed for mobile. Having the same content on two different domains can be dangerous since Google might register this as duplicate content, which is never good for your SEO. But when you simply have two versions of the page connected to the single URL, this problem is easily avoided.

5. Link building

The second benefit of having both versions of the site on one URL is related to link building. Backlinks are still considered to be one of the most important SEO factors. Naturally, building the authority for two different pages and two different URLs is twice the job you’d need to do in order to build and maintain the authority for a single one. So, even if it’s the same content that other blogs and sites link to, it will be treated as two separate pages and completely separate content, and this can seriously undermine your efforts to increase the authority of your domain.  

Design for the future

All in all, using responsive web design is an elegant and tidy solution that will usually do the work for your website’s SEO. Of course, sometimes, all the content, functions and options simply can’t fit the mobile devices and maintain a tidy and organized look. Then, you’ll have to go for two different URLs and two essentially different designs. This used to be a trend for ecommerce websites, with a research from 2013 finding that almost 80 percent of top ecommerce websites use the “mDot” configuration. However, that’s also changed in the last few years, and it has changed in favor of responsive web design. It’s a solution that’s becoming more advanced in terms of user experience, which directly influences the website’s search engine rankings and its visibility for online audience.

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