Google prefers responsive design, and will reward your website if it is responsive. That’s useful information if you know what a responsive website is and how Google rewards websites. If not, read on.
What’s a responsive website?
First, you must know that many people now visit your website using a smartphone or a tablet rather than a desktop computer. It depends on the website, but we usually see more than half of all visits coming from mobile devices.
People may also visit you on larger screens, whether it’s a home TV used to surf the web or stream media, or a conference room wall monitor.
This means that your website needs to look good on different sizes of screens. Some websites manage this by using an app or a special mobile site for their mobile visitors. Another option is a responsive website, which adjusts to any size of screen. Visitors see the same website on all devices, but the website adjusts to work well on all screen sizes.
Use Google’s mobile-friendly test page to make sure that your website is mobile-friendly. If it is, you’ll see a happy message like the one below. If not, you’ll get suggestions for how to improve.
Is a responsive website the best option?
Google prefers responsive sites because they make the best use of resources.They also provide the same experience to all visitors, and give visitors the most control over the content they see.
Now, with so many people using mobile devices as their primary means of accessing the internet, it makes less sense to provide a special mobile experience.
But there are times when a responsive website might not be the best choice. For example, we found that one hospital’s smartphone traffic was much more likely to be looking for a map, the emergency room, and other urgent information. Their desktop visitors were just as likely to be exploring specific types of surgery or checking out a particular doctor or investigating career options. Their mobile visitors didn’t want the same things as their desktop visitors.
In this situation, it can make sense to offer a different web experience.
However, this kind of mismatch between desktop and mobile use is probably becoming less common. Check your analytics and make sure that you actually see that kind if discrepancy. Don’t just guess.
What if you don’t have a responsive website?
It’s time for a rebuild. Back in 2010, we checked clients’ analytics before advising a redesign just for responsiveness. If they had less than 10% mobile traffic, we told them they could delay that redesign, but they should budget for it for the next year. That advice could still work… except that any website now that has only 10% mobile traffic is probably losing lots of visitors.
You need a responsive website. If you have a WordPress website, you should probably update to a new, responsive theme. After all, if your website was built so long ago that it’s not responsive, there are probably many things that need updating now.
Our series of SEO advantages is about things other than your content that can make a difference to your SEO results. For this particular advantage, the importance is high and the solution is straightforward.