Yes, you read that right! Google recently went on the record promoting responsive web design as their preferred method of building websites.
Sites that use responsive web design, i.e. sites that serve all devices on the same set of URLs, with each URL serving the same HTML to all devices and using just CSS to change how the page is rendered on the device. This is Google’s recommended configuration.
Google Web Master Central
There are many reasons Google is recommending using responsive web design.
Faulty redirects to mobile websites cause poor usability. When browsing on a mobile phone many websites will redirect any link to their desktop version to the mobile one. These redirects are often faulty, redirecting you to the wrong page or even straight to the homepage.
Responsive web design provides the same content on every device. It uses the same HTML so it doesn’t matter which device you visit it on, you will receive the same information.
Google does not favour any URL format so long as the page and all the assets are accessible to Google’s search bots. This means that putting a page on a mobile domain such as m.domain.com does not take preference over domain.com.
With the release of Googles new algorithm they have wrote a new mobile ranking system that favours mobile-friendly websites. While this specifically refers to responsive websites it does indicate the importance of an optimised experience across all devices.
Google prefers websites that have a single URL for each page of the website. This makes it easier to link and share content across the internet. It also offers speed benefits as it removes the need for a website to redirect users to an alternative version. This favours mobile users whose network connection may not be the best!
Google finds it easier to crawl and index sites that have one version of the website. This saves the need to crawl multiple versions of a website and then index those pages appropriately.
Having a single version of a website avoids the need to duplicate content across multiple versions of a page for different devices (such as a mobile and desktop version). This reduces the likelihood Googles spiders will be confused and possibly penalise you for duplicate content.
Mobile traffic is set to take over desktop usage. Google’s data says that 61% of visitors will return to a Google search if a website is not mobile optimised. 71% of mobile users will leave a website after 5 seconds for a page to load. Creating a mobile first responsive website has never been more critical to the success of an online business.
Thanks to Unsplash for the image.