More than 50% of Google searches come from mobile devices, which makes sense because we're all connected at the hip to our phones. This number doesn't include tablets like iPads or Kindle e-readers. The viewing audience has become so segmented and SEO has caught up to the trends. The fact is, in our always on the go society if you're not designing and developing your websites with a mobile-first approach then you're likely throwing away money in your marketing efforts by not following SEO best practices when it comes to website design.
Google search engines have started to prioritize mobile optimized websites over non-mobile. If your website visitors don't have a pleasurable experience while browsing from their phone, it's likely your business will stop showing up in search results for mobile users. The question is no longer whether you should create a site optimized for mobile users, but what is the best approach.
How Can You Make Your Website Work on Mobile Devices?
There are two ways to take your website from desktop to mobile.
Responsive website- Your website's layout and code is created specifically to work on multiple devices. A responsive website will resize to fit the device width of the viewer be it a tablet, phone, or desktop. Responsive websites normally provide an optimum user experience because they require minimal panning and resizing compared to viewing the desktop version of a site on a mobile device.
Mobile website- Your mobile website is a separate entity from your desktop website. A mobile only version of a site has a distinct url (think mobile.yourwebsitehere.com) that is made specifically for smaller devices.
Both responsive and mobile-only web design place an emphasis on fast, user-friendly content with simple navigation. Since they both prioritize the mobile user you may be thinking that there's no benefit to using one or the other, but there are distinct differences.
Dedicated mobile sites are created separately from your main desktop site. A developer can decide that certain files or photos are not necessary to mobile user and leave them out. This (usually) allows for a much faster load time. What you choose to keep on your mobile site can be decided by your developers and SEO team.
As development techniques have improved over the years intricate website details have been made a possibility on mobile devices by way of responsive web design. With responsive websites a mobile-first approach is still taken, yet there is no separate URL structure. Items such as columns and menu bars are rearranged to provide a beneficial user experience while still allowing the same content to be displayed on a mobile screen, tablet, or desktop.
Disadvantages to Mobile Dedicated Websites
While a dedicated mobile site offers a fast loading time, enhancing user experience, which helps your SEO, the problem arises when choosing content to display on your site. Since mobile websites are frequently trimmed down versions of the desktop site you have to be sure that the content you are displaying is the content that users want to see. If a searchers query can't be answered by what you're offering on your dedicated mobile site they likely will leave without making a purchase. If your bounce rate is too high it is likely you will start slipping in search engine rankings because Google will see that your website is less relevant than others. Another problem that arises is when someone visits your desktop site and then uses the mobile version while they're away from the house. If they aren't able to find the same information, their experience may be a negative one.
It's usually more costly to build two websites than it is one. Cost doesn't just come in the form of upfront payment for development, but also maintenance. Some agencies make the mistake of creating both a desktop and mobile version of a site. SEO'ers can get caught up in desktop search rankings and forget all together about its mobile counterpart which needs it's own maintenance and optimizing. That means extra man-hours that you'll pay for one way or another.
When you have a responsive website, the initial design process may take longer to ensure that the content flows properly when screen size is adjusted but you only have one URL to manage and those changes take effect across all devices.
If you want to follow Googles best practices when it comes to SEO, responsive websites are the way to go. The ease of maintenance and lack of redirects for a responsive website far outweigh the benefits of a mobile-dedicated design. If your small business or startup is in need a website refresh Syrup & Honey Marketing can help you build a website that converts and works well on all devices. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.