Responsive web design: the importance of making your site adaptive for SEO

By My Little Big Web

With more than 75% of the world’s population owning a smartphone and at least 50% of online purchases made on mobile phones, we are now in the era of mobile search!

Indeed, since 2016, web-based mobile search has surpassed desktop search (more than 53% for mobile search), and this gap is widening. As a result, search engines, including Google, are increasingly valuing sites with responsive technology and mobile display has now become a priority over other devices.

Share of web traffic per device in 2018

Today, having a responsive site is needed to increase your traffic and optimize your SEO because it is a factor that Google takes into account for your SEO. Moreover, 80% of Internet users say they do not engage with content that is not displayed properly on their device.

What is responsive web design?

Responsive web design, or adaptive design, is the ability of your online platform to adapt to all screen formats that people use for searches: phone, tablet, computer, etc. Regardless of the screen size, the site will adapt to display correctly on all formats. In other words, no need to zoom in to see the content and the correct font size will immediately appear on your screen.

Example of a site with responsive web design

Why is responsive web design important?

Since mobile traffic has surpassed desktop traffic, people increasingly visit websites from their phones at any time of the day. The purpose of adaptive design is preventing the need to zoom or crop the screen when a user arrives on the site from a mobile device.

Today, many sites still exist that are not adaptive and where you have to reposition the content so that it fits on your screen. Google increasingly values the user experience of its mobile users, and therefore sites that offer content adapted to the mobile format. As a result, a site that is adaptive for mobile should in theory be better ranked in search engines.

In addition, Google now indexes web pages as Mobile First. This means that Google will first consider the mobile version of the site when ranking web pages.

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Should you choose a responsive site or a mobile site?

A distinction can be made between a responsive site, which is a website that adapts to different screen formats, and a mobile site, which is a site specially designed for the mobile format. In the case of a responsive site, it will be the same on your phone and on your computer. A mobile site, on the other hand, is a completely separate site, designed to be intended for mobile devices. Generally, it costs much more to recreate a mobile site, since it requires designing a new site from A to Z, and the maintenance costs of two platforms (web and mobile) will also be higher.

Difference between a responsive site and a mobile site

Google has validated responsive web design technology, and an adaptive site is now considered as a mobile site in the search engine when it comes to SEO. However, depending on your industry and if you want to improve the mobile user experience, it can be worthwhile to design a site specifically for mobile phones. On the other hand, it should be remembered that a mobile site will generate more costs, will be more complicated to manage, and will require, at the SEO level, a certain number of adjustments, in particular at the level of URLs, as well as a certain number of indications that will have to be given to Google.

On the other hand, responsive web design technology also limits your possibilities because you can’t modify the original website when you make it adaptive and you will only have an adaptive version of your platform in a mobile format. A mobile site therefore opens up many design, user experience and personalization possibilities for mobile users: there is no dependence on the desktop version.

For this reason, you should define your strategy before choosing between these two options. In most cases, a simple update of your site with responsive web design technology is enough to appear in Google’s search results and offer your content to mobile users. However, if 90% of the users of your website come from mobile search and you want to offer a more advanced user experience, it may be worth moving to a mobile site. This choice therefore depends on your strategy and the user experience you want to offer.

If you want more advice on how to determine your strategy, or simply want to make your site adaptive, contact our team to improve your SEO and boost your online traffic.