With mobile internet accessibility and usability growing year-on-year, it is undeniable that websites must meet users’ expectations for a smooth and relevant experience. Moreover, 2020 generated valuable insights on the relevance of mobile devices to people’s lives with:
- COVID-19 pandemic emphasized the practicality of internet mobile for all-round daily tasks;
- Mobile web browsing skyrocketed, fueled by consumer shopping intent;
- Half the world’s population is browsing the internet on a mobile device;
- Google’s webmasters announcing the mobile-first index launch in March 2021, with a knock-on effect on desktop-only and m-dot websites.
Still questioning the importance of responsive web design for your website’s SEO? Jeremy Bentley, SEO expert at Datadial, reveals the top five ways of complementing SEO efforts with responsive web design to improve websites’ performance in Google’s SERP.
1. Site Usability
Mobile visitors are usually impatient, longing for on-the-spot solutions to their needs – which is not to say that desktop visitors like wasting their time. Google endorses this by saying that 53% of mobile users will bounce off a page that is not loading in less than 3 seconds.
Within a highly competitive market, fast loading websites manage to stay competitive, while the rest are subject to traffic fluctuation and inconsistency due to a drop in ranking.
Responsive web design helps optimize websites for mobile search, improving your site’s functionality and design by scaling the content to users’ devices, thus providing a consistent user experience across all devices.
Since Google is all for serving users the most relevant results, it will then favor and promote the websites that are providing a good user experience by all means: content, design, and functionality across all devices.
It goes without saying that a drop in traffic harms sales. On top of that, an unresponsive website on mobile devices will lead to missing out on valuable opportunities to attract customers and make them convert.
2. Faster Web Page Loading
Starting with Google Speed Update, back in 2018, Google uses mobile site speed as a ranking factor in mobile search.
Google’s updates are aligned to user’s behavior: an increase in mobile devices use means a paradigm shift for how Google bots crawl, index, and display results in SERP to satisfy people’s needs, expectations, promoting customers satisfaction.
In a mobile-centric world, having a mobile responsive design is a fundamental part of a successful SEO strategy. Responsive web design will help you rethink both the layout and the content of your website to offer a smooth user experience from desktop, to laptop, tablet, and smartphone without any inconsistencies.
Fail to do so, and your SEO efforts would be compromised and a drop in traffic is foreseeable beyond question with your desktop only and m-dot website versions being removed from Google’s index no later than March 2021.
3. Lower Bounce Rate
The bounce rate reflects the percentage of users landing on a page and deciding to leave before continuing the website journey. Google takes it into account for weighting the relevancy of a webpage for a given search query.
A high bounce rate will thus generate a drop in ranking, reflecting thin or irrelevant content, or a poorly designed website, just by looking at users’ interactions.
It is still safe to say that content is king but keeping up to speed with the latest tech insights, content will only remain king if it is properly optimized for all devices.
Good content can only do so much, if not supported by an appealing design. Responsive web design does just that by adjusting the layout of the page, and displaying the same content, to any device.
4. Boosted Social Sharing
Social media is not a ranking factor, but that doesn’t make it less important when it comes to your overall marketing strategy. It sure does play an instrumental role in an SEO campaign, complementing each other, and helping you leverage website traffic.
Responsive web design makes content sharing accessible across all social platforms, expanding your audience.
How? By making it easier for site visitors to access the same content on desktop and mobile devices, share it with their peers, and on their social media profiles. This uncovers great opportunities to reach a wider audience.
More traffic means more chances for your visitors to convert. Now, more than ever, responsive web design is the foundation that makes it possible for you to boost your sales. What if a desktop user shares a link to a mobile user and the website is unresponsive? Or, imagine your visitors struggling to find the share button, and simply giving up. This robs you of the opportunity to expand your potential consumer market and get more traffic.
5. No Duplicate Content
With the rise of mobile devices use, most websites built a separate mobile version, but this approach is often raising duplicated content issues. Why? If highly similar content appears on more than one URL, then chances are you’re in for duplicate content issues.
Due to the duplicated nature of the content, Google bots cannot tell which version should be indexed, nor if one version should absorb all link metrics, or should they be kept separate. Additionally, which version should then rank for a given search query? Although chances that you will get a Google penalty are low, this doesn’t mean that your rankings will not be affected.
Installing a responsive web design will help solve your duplicated content issues on account of using one URL across devices and adapting the layout and content to fit any screen size while offering a consistent and pleasant user experience.
What’s the takeaway?
Google says, webmasters do! If Google announces an algorithm change, we follow. And Google recommends responsive web design for a smooth transition to mobile-first index, with a series of benefits reflected on your overall website’s SEO performance.