How responsive Web design can aid your search engine optimization

RWD Boston GlobeI’ve rarely seen a Web design trend sweep in as rapidly as responsive Web design has. And while many people think RWD just has to do with making sites more readable on tablets and smartphones, Kristina Kledzik wrote a very perceptive piece on the SEOmoz blog a few weeks back on how it can help a site’s SEO, too.

For those who aren’t familiar with RWD, it is the coding that can be done to a website so it automatically reconfigures itself to look good regardless of the device being used to view it. For example, look at www.bostonglobe.com and drag the edge of your browser so it’s about the shape of a smartphone – see how the site has reconfigured itself to work in that form factor? As you drag the www.microsoft.com site, you can see it move through the various snap points where the site is reconfiguring for, first, tablets and then smartphones.  www.Greygoose.com performs a similar feat with a graphically-rich site, as does the www.planar.com site that the company that I work at, ISITE Design, developed; note how the menus and images on both sites reconfigure to fit the smaller tablet and smartphone formats. (On the other hand, www.nytimes.com doesn’t; for good reasons that Kledzik notes, the Times has decided to have a totally separate, mobile site.)

While RWD was first proposed in an article in 2010, in the last year it has become standard – table stakes, if you will, for a new website. If you designed a new site without RWD, you’d be horribly behind, except in those few cases like the NY Times site where a separate mobile site could still make sense.

And as Kledzik notes, RWD helps not just with the readability of a site on mobile devices, usage of which is rising so rapidly that they are predicted to account for the majority of Web traffic by 2015. RWD also has positive effects on a site’s SEO.

Here are just a few:

  • Having one website with one URL means that your site traffic isn’t split, so Google will record more traffic to your site, and the more popular a site is the higher that Google is likely to rank it.
  • If you didn’t have a RWD site and people on mobile devices come to site and, not being able to read it very well, quickly leave, Google would note that, too, and probably drop your site’s rankings.
  • Another advantage of not having duplicate content on two sites is that all inbound links go to one site, further helping its SEO attractiveness for Google
  • Google will note that it is a RWD site and rank it more highly in mobile searches than if it were a traditional site.

And here’s maybe the most important reason:

  • Google recommends responsive Web design

So check out Kledzik’s article; she goes into a lot more detail than I do here. It’s worth a read.

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