The past few years have seen the number of mobile users rise to the point where they now outnumber desktop users, and we can only expect the gap to become wider over time. With mobile devices becoming an indispensable part of our everyday life, it’s also easy to predict that modern technology would make mobile even more cutting edge, with processors becoming more powerful and screens getting larger as the years go by.
However, for all the dominance mobile has shown in recent years, many websites are still not as mobile-friendly as we would like them to be. You would think that websites would fall over themselves shifting to responsive web design, but so far, a lot of webmasters still haven’t taken that step.
It’s quite surprising that the response to the growing demand for more mobile-friendly websites is, at best, lukewarm. After all, being responsive in a mobile-dominated world does bring with it a lot of benefits, particularly for a website’s SEO.
Let’s take a look at five ways responsive web design benefits your SEO.
1. Faster loading time leads to higher rankings
It is believed that there are more than 200 ranking factors that SEOs must consider to secure prime positions in the search engine results pages. While many of those factors remain unconfirmed, one reputed ranking factor that Google has declared to be an actual ranking factor is page loading time. Google has proven that with the way it has been favoring sites that load fast, which is something responsive web design can help you do.
Once you adopt a responsive web design, you can expect your page loading speed to become faster, particularly on smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices. Faster loading speed leads to a better user experience, which itself is another confirmed ranking factor.
2. Better UX
Most Internet users have been complaining about the slowness at which many websites load their pages, so when they stumble upon a site that has lightning-fast loading speeds, their user experience instantly improves.
And with Google also confirming that quality user experience is also a ranking factor, it only makes sense for a webmaster to seriously consider going for a responsive web design. With improved user experience, visitors will be more likely to stay longer on your pages. ‘Time on page’ is an indicator of the value your site provides for any given query, and that is something Google will definitely see. With your apparent efforts to improve the user experience, Google will reward your site with higher rankings.
3. Lower bounce rates
Getting people to visit your website is one thing. Keeping them engaged there is an entirely different world. So many things can make people stay, and a million other things can make them flee your site like it’s on fire. And Google can see all of this happening.
How long visitors stay on any of your pages at any given time, Google knows. And when users immediately leave your site for another, Google will also know. It will take your visitor’s abrupt flying the coop to mean that your page had nothing relevant or useful to offer, which, in turn, could lead to your website eventually getting ranked lower in the SERPs for that particular query.
With Google keeping such a close watch on bounce rates, webmasters should shudder at the thought of their websites not displaying well on mobile devices, which is more than enough reason for users to just bounce off to another site. That will increase your bounce rate, which neither Google nor you would like.
Let’s face it: even if your site looks great, has very relevant and useful content, and is exceptionally optimized, mobile users are not going to stick around for more than a few seconds if it doesn’t display well on their smartphones and tablets because it’s not responsive. So if you want to get ranked higher in search results, please mobile users with a responsive web design and make them stay longer.
4. Minimized duplicate content
Let’s say that you want a share of the mobile market, and are interested in becoming more mobile-friendly. However, instead of going for a responsive design, you want to make a separate website for mobile.
Now that would be a very big mistake, since it involves setting up a separate URL, which would just be fine if not for the fact that the mobile site and the desktop site will feature virtually identical content. And you know how Google feels about duplicate content. Give it some time, and Google’s bots will detect everything, and declare either your desktop or mobile site as having duplicate content. You will be penalized, and your rankings will take a dive.
If you’re going for better mobile-friendliness, then go straight to making your site responsive. With a responsive web design, all of your content will remain on a single domain, and your site will display well on smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices.
5. Google’s Mobile-First Index
If there’s one reason that should be compelling enough to make webmasters who care about their SEO shift to responsive web design, it would have to be Google’s Mobile-First Index.
Launched in early 2018, the Mobile-First Index is basically Google’s switch from indexing the desktop version of your site first to basing what it places in the index on your site’s mobile version. In other words, it’s a major shakeup of the indexing and ranking process that essentially prioritizes mobile-optimized websites over their desktop versions. If your site is not mobile-friendly, you are going to find it hard to rank well. Of course, the opposite would be true if you get a responsive design going.
Mobile has already won over desktop, and is going to win for many years to come. If you know what’s good for your SEO and you want to get a share of the ever-growing mobile market, shift to a responsive web design now, or get left behind.