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Want a Successful SEO Campaign? Responsive Design Matters.

[lead]You may have heard the buzz term responsive design and may be wondering exactly what that is. Well, there is actually an easy answer, and it isn’t complicated![/lead]

A responsive website is built to adapt to any screen size, including Androids, iPhones, and tablets.  The value of this design pattern is that it enhances your users’ experiences by making the content easy to read and provides a website navigation that is compatible with all mobile devices. The ultimate goal is to supply the best possible user experience for visitors depending on the device they may be using to access it.

A responsive website can advance your website’s performance in comparison to your competitors while elevating your online branding strategy.

Your SEO value can be positively affected by implementing a responsive design.

Why Responsive Design Matters to Search Engines

Google’s Mobile Algorithm (“Mobilegedon”) – What is it and why do I care?

Oh Google, there’s always another algorithm we have to worry about.

On April 21, 2015, Google released the new mobile-friendly ranking algorithm update. This update was launched to increase the presence of mobile friendly pages in the search results. According to Search Engine Land, “Google’s mobile ranking algorithm will officially include mobile-friendly usability factors and app indexing.”

Starting April 20, Google may start penalizing non mobile-friendly websites.
A mobile-friendly tag will be added to search results on a mobile device.

Google offers many useful tools to help you determine if your sites are mobile-friendly, including the Mobile Friendly Test page, which provides immediate results. You can learn more by checking out the MOZ SEO Community.

Why You Should Only Consider a Responsive Website

Many companies have opted for something called an “m.domain” site, which is a quick, less technical way to make your site mobile-friendly. This approach puts your mobile platform on a subdomain, making both search engines and users visit two different sites. Many companies have made the mistake of over simplifying their mobile sites to satisfy the algorithm requests and end up missing the focus on engaging their users.

A responsive website creates a path for success for an SEO strategy because it provides a consolidated codebase. Having two versions – desktop and mobile – can sometimes require an update to be made across two different databases. For you, this means that you’ll have to update your primary site and your mobile site while a responsive site takes one update to reflect across all platforms.

Besides adding a layer of simplicity for content administrators, it also adds familiarity with your users as well. If the same content persists when viewing your website from a laptop and a phone, then you have essentially removed unnecessary hurdles for user engagement.

Having multiple versions of the same website duplicates content and Google continues to beat on the drum on how essential strategic content is to your rankings in the search results. The simplicity of having one url that contains all the website data makes it faster for the search engines to crawl your website and creates a more sustainable relationship between your brand and your mobile visitors.

Who are these mobile users? Get to know them.

Today and moving forward, search engine optimization (SEO) is all about the user. Understanding your mobile users and meeting their needs online will determine whether or not they choose you or a competitor. The need for responsive design is easy: 1) If your competitors have websites that are responsive, then you should definitely introduce a responsive website to remain competitive in the search results. 2) If your competitors don’t have websites that are responsive, then you should definitely introduce a responsive website because it gives a clear differentiating signal to search engines which could give you an edge. Easy as that.

According to ComScore, “For the first time in March [2015], the number of mobile-only adult Internet users exceeded the number of desktop-only Internet users.”

The goal of the mobile update isn’t meant to make a marketer’s life difficult, it is to improve each searcher’s results and deliver relevant information. These ROI metrics include new visitor traffic, average time on site, number of pages visited, and increased site goals completed compared to the time period before responsive website.

Is your site really a responsive masterpiece?

So now that you understand the why, how do you create a responsive website that truly represents your brand? Ask yourself, is my site just mobile friendly or do mobile users actually enjoy using my website?

When choosing a responsive framework for your website be aware of your audience and make sure it displays your product or service in a way your audience expects. Responsive design lets you step out of the box and increase creative elements in the fabric of the website.

Even though mobile friendly tools are useful, its imperative that you do all device testing of your site on all legitimate platforms to confirm you are supporting them adequately because there are many unpredictable incompatibilities that can be unforeseen. The goal of this thorough testing is to avoid unnecessary specialization of mobile fixes in the future.

So… what next?

Evaluate your big picture brand strategy. Is it the right time for you to implement a responsive, mobile friendly solution? If you are going through any major changes to your brand, the time is now. If you wait longer, search rankings will lack in their ability to grow.

If you truly want to the best results out of your SEO strategy, then responsive design is the way to move forward. Give mobile users what they want, which is to get to know your business with clarity and ease.

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Walk West

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