In the present competitive digital landscape, responsive web design is not an option. It is a necessity. The key reason why Google values responsive sites should be obvious. As mobile has emerged as a critical component for digital commerce and web browsing, with over sixty per cent of the queries within search engines coming from mobile devices like tablets and smartphones, responsive sites are essential for businesses that value growth. But despite this strong trend, many brands fail to deliver user-friendly mobile experiences for visitors. A recent study by LogMeIn in association with Vanson Burne found close to 52% were satisfied with online sites while engaging with a business via smartphones. Around 91% indicated that they would not be able to do business again with a brand delivering a negative mobile experience and close to 38% said they would write a negative review online or tell friends about such an experience.
- Why Responsive Sites are a Standard Now
Responsive website design which was once a design tactic that was considered the height of innovation and cutting-edge technologies has become a standard among web design platforms and web designers alike. With Google’s move to a mobile-friendly index, responsive design is vital for SEO. A study by Google found that 61% of users would abandon a site if it was not optimised for smartphones. Around 50 percent of users said even if they preferred a brand less if the mobile experience was less than satisfactory. Around 36 per cent felt the site that is not mobile-first is a waste of their time. Further, another 48 per cent said if the site did not work well on smartphones or tablets, it communicated that the brand did not care about its company, customers or reputation.
- Google’s View
With Google’s push for the best customer experience online, failing to implement a responsive web design will only lead to increased negative reviews online, decreased web traffic, low bounce rates, low sales and fewer chances of repeated purchases. Responsive website design has become an important priority for Pathwwway Limited as are search engine optimisation and quality content creation. In recent times, Google has implemented the use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This marks their move to a mobile-first index, whereby competitor sites that are more smartphone-friendly will outrank your site if you neglect responsive website design.
- Eliminate Duplicate Content
Many companies have been using a desktop version of the website and the mobile version at the same time. This leads to duplication of content. For Google bots, any distinct URL is considered a unique site or page. So, such sites could be held with duplicate content penalties.
- Lower Bounce Rates
User behaviour and visitor statistics for your site’s pages are vital. Google’s goal is to ensure sites provide the best user experience possible for any given search query performed. Therefore, it tends to rank sites higher when they provide exactly what the user is looking for. Indicators of poor experience include high bounce rates, low time spent on sites and pages, lower number of clicks and page views. Research by Google has indicated visitors will not stay on your site if they have a poor user experience. Those sites which neglect responsiveness are likely to have high bounce rates, too. The bounce rate is how fast the visitor leaves the site without engaging with the site because the site is not what he or she was looking for.
The quicker individuals leave your site, the higher the bounce rate. So, this is a metric leading search engine such as Google focus on. Search engines like Google correlate this metric with how relevant/irrelevant the content is for visitors as well as its quality. A well-optimised site is intuitive, engaging and presents information in ways that increase time spent on pages and click-through rates.
- Faster Loading Speeds
Research by Hubspot found if your site takes more than 3 seconds to load, you could lose as much as 40 to 50 per cent of your visitors. Another Kissmetrics study found around 79 percent of visitors dissatisfied with the site speed and performance will be less likely to visit your site repeatedly. Responsive web design ensures optimisation of page load speeds. This, in turn, has a well-documented linear impact and directly influences customer perception as a positive experience on the site. Google has been vocal about how load speed is a major algorithm ranking signal.
As a business owner, one has to make sure the website is mobile-friendly and responsive. Your site needs to load on all screens, browsers and devices in an equal amount of time.
- User Experience
When one considers visitors and expectations of experience on the web page, the user experience needs to be accorded more value over fancy design or user interface structures. Ensuring the user experience is a priority comes down to structure, mobile-friendliness, navigation and easy accessibility. Responsive web design makes the site mobile-friendly and prioritises readability as well as navigation for visitors.
Google perceives usability by looking into key metrics such as time spent on web pages. While one is not privy to the exact weighing of such performance indicators in algorithms, they play a role in how the site ranks. User experience and interface should be given the same importance as other on and off-page SEO efforts.
- How It Works
Responsive web design ensures the server sends the same HTML codes to every device and CSS or cascading style sheets are used to alter the way the page renders on each device. Google algorithms are able to automatically detect the setup if Googlebot user agents are crawling the page and its assets. Responsive website design serves all devices with the same code; this adjusts the site for screen size across different browsers and devices.
Essentially, mobile browsers cannot render desktop-only sites well. The browsers try to make content look better by scaling content to fit the screen or show only part of the content and boost font size. This causes viewers to have a negative user experience. Users would be stuck with inconsistent fonts and lack of ability to see the content properly.
Here’s why Google, therefore, prefers responsive website design. Responsive sites make it easier for users to link and share to the content with a single URL. This helps Google algorithms to accurately assign indexing properties to the page rather than signalling the existence of corresponding mobile or desktop pages. Additionally, it requires less developer time to maintain multiple pages for the same content. It reduces the possibility of common errors that impact mobile sites.