There is much debate today on whether website owners should choose to have a separate mobile website or to make their current website responsive. Thus, it wouldn’t be wrong to assume that internet consumption is becoming primarily a mobile activity. Responsive design simply means that the site will respond to the screen of the device used for browsing and display accordingly. There’s no doubt that responsive Web design is here to stay. If you doubt it, just ask some of the major designers.
The methodology of the responsive design is still undergoing some evolution — and always will — as new devices like the iPad Mini enter the market. Instead of targeting devices, we’ll see a shift toward the site’s responsiveness so it will adapt to various devices. The bottom line is that as long as multiple devices for browsing are accessible, responsive design will always be a requirement.
There are many benefits for choosing responsive design including some SEO benefits.
Higher Local Rankings
If you’re targeting local keywords for business, a responsive design will increase your rankings. Keep in mind that more and more people are searching for directions to local businesses while on the go — using their mobile devices. Yelp reported a while ago that around 40 percent of searches came from their mobile app. If your website is responsive and includes certain SEO pointers and parameters, Google will now favour your website over other non-responsive sites.
Saves on SEO efforts, time and cost
SEO is costly and time consuming, so why would you want to repeat the experience for a mobile site? When you choose responsive design over a separate mobile site, all your onsite SEO efforts and social sharing will also apply to the mobile version of your site.
Most of your onsite SEO will be maintained for the mobile site, including your anchor text, internal link structure, title tags, meta descriptions, keywords, content and search engine friendly URLs. Making your site responsive now, when the topic is hot but largely unused, will get you noticed.
Avoid Duplicate Content
Responsive design removes the challenge of duplicate content. Webmasters who create mobile versions of their websites usually just replicate the content from the main website on the mobile version. This immediately removes the credibility of the mobile site from the search engines’ perspective. That means it will be difficult for the mobile site to rank. You can counteract the effects of this by using Switchboard tags to make the link between your mobile and desktop pages, but what if Google doesn’t make the connection? Bing and Yahoo have not fully implemented tagging, so you can ruin your site’s reputation with these search engines as well. Responsive design also removes the challenge of updating two or more websites.
If you have two separate sites, updating will be a two-course process which is not only annoying but can also result in serious messing up of the SEO of your main site. However, with responsive design, there is only one site to be updated and hence, there is a less chance to make significant mistakes.
Google loves it
SEO is all about following what Google loves to call best practices and using responsive web design is just one of them. In an official statement Google has clearly stated its recommendation for webmasters to implement responsive web design and using the same design code (HTML) across all devices, using only CSS media queries to decide the rendering on each device.
The responsive design presents the webmaster with the ability to use the same desktop URL for his mobile site, rather than using a separate mobile URL. In terms of SEO, it should help your site gain better rankings over a site that has separate regular and mobile version as all the link juice is channeled into a single URL, instead of splitting in two different URLs.