How Responsive Web Design Affects SEO

Ever since the introduction of smartphones, we’ve started to see more and more websites designed for smaller devices in mind. For a while, some websites went as far as to ignore basic design principles that made a website viewable on desktop, entirely focusing on the mobile users and neglecting everyone else.

Thankfully, this is no longer the case, and more people are starting to focus on responsive web design, meaning that it automatically adapts to the platform and size of the device you’re viewing from. In fact, according to Statista, the percentage of mobile device website traffic already surpassed 50% back in Q1 2017. That means that over half of the traffic on the internet comes from mobile devices, making it essential that we focus on both desktop and mobile users.

But what kind of effect does this have on our search engine optimization? Do we need to put in more work to have our website appear on Google, or do we get bonus points in search algorithms for appealing to more users?

Site Usability Is a Factor in SEO

Search engine optimization

Many people don’t realize that site usability is a factor in SEO. The more usable your website is, the more time a user will spend on your pages, a factor used by Google to determine your site’s quality or value, effectively making it a factor in SEO. If your website design is responsive, it also attracts more users from both desktop and mobile platforms, meaning you’ll have more successful hits than failed ones, and people will be more likely to stay on your website for longer periods.

Google tends to rank websites on several factors directly affected by site usability and responsive web design. For example, positive reviews tend to give a website more favor, meaning they’re more likely to get bumped up a few rankings by Google. If your website doesn’t have a responsive design or fails to use it correctly, then people will not enjoy your website and will give it a negative review.

However, suppose you utilize responsive web design correctly (using a web design Dubai agency, or on your own). In that case, people will see your website positively, directly affecting traffic, meaning more people will visit your website, and there will also be more people searching for your website across both mobile and desktop platforms.

In short, site usability means that you’re creating a better user experience. You’re opening up your website to more users, helping you earn Google’s favor, and giving you a better score based on the traffic and value you provide.

Page Load Times Are Measured by Google

Google website

If desktop were the only platform we needed to worry about, page load times would be relatively consistent and easy to measure. However, mobile internet connections don’t have the best reputation and are often considerably slower than wired desktop connections due to the technologies we use in mobile data networks.

Therefore, websites can load incredibly quickly on desktop but fail to load on mobile even if you’re in the exact location. It isn’t as common nowadays, thanks to improved mobile network infrastructure. However, there are still times when our surroundings can block signals, and temporary fluctuations in demand may cause speeds to be slower.

Responsive web design seeks to fix this by offering faster page load times. Since mobile devices are smaller than the average computer monitor, we can get away with lower-quality images and assets. They’re also smaller in the number of bytes they contain, meaning they can be downloaded and displayed much faster than their full-sized counterparts. It ultimately means that your pages load much faster and are compatible with areas where data network speeds can fluctuate from slow to almost non-existent.

Faster loading website eventually leads to more positive reviews from people that visit your website. Still, Google can also measure your page load times and assign you a ranking based on how well your website performs. In other words, responsive web design leads to faster page load speeds, which positively impacts your SEO. Because site speed is so important, most of the best SEO tools and plugins you can include on your website will give you pointers on how to maximize it. One good strategy is to use a caching plugin, which will increase performance across the board.

Duplicate Content Can Cause Problems

Stressed man

In the past, it was an option to work with a small business web design company to design a mobile-friendly version of your website. However, how Google’s web crawlers worked presented a considerable problem; it was marked as duplicate content. Since you have at least two different URLs on your website that point to the same content, Google could mark this as duplicate content, which will harm your rankings.

To remedy this, you can use responsive web design, ensuring that there is only one unique source of your website and its content, meaning Google won’t take off points in your ranking because it believes you’ve copied content. It also makes it much easier to manage the content on your website since you won’t need to manage two different content systems.

You can make changes to your content through a single platform, and the changes will reflect on both the mobile and desktop versions of your website, thanks to responsive design. While having two different websites can offer some advantages, such as platform-specific features, people ultimately want more convenience.

They don’t want to type in a different URL to reach your website’s mobile or desktop version. Responsive design also means that you won’t need to restart your SEO ranking for a different version of your website, meaning you can take advantage of your website’s current search ranking position.