Responsive Web Design with Google’s Mobile Friendly Update

In this blog post, I want to try to demystify the concept of Responsive Web Design, what it is, and why it’s important to the average small business owner who’s trying to generate sales and get ahead of the competition.

Last spring Google made a major change to search engine results page (SERP) algorithm on mobile devices. Websites that are more mobile friendly are ranked higher in search results. If your website is not mobile friendly then this algorithm could change how your web traffic is impacted.

Why Does Google Now Favor Mobile-Friendly Sites?

It is reported that as of this past May more Google searches were performed on mobile devices than desktops. Google wanted to get the mobile search results better tailored for a better user experience. Google explained on their Webmaster Central Blog, “When it comes to search results on any mobile device, the end user should get the most timely and relevant results. As more people use mobile devices to access the internet, our algorithms have to adapt to this usage change as well.”

While Google hasn’t exactly said how much weight it gives to mobile responsiveness as a ranking signal, but it is worth noting that Google publicized this change where the previous algorithm updates to Panda and Penguin were both unannounced launches. Google wants to make sure your website is mobile-ready.

Google’s Mobile Update and What It Means for You

If you don’t have a mobile friendly website then it is easy to say that your business is being buried on mobile search results. Even if your site is found, they may not say because your website is not responsive. According to Google over 50% of people will use a business less often if their website isn’t mobile friendly.

You are probably asking yourself what I can do to protect my business? First, check your site with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test by clicking here. If your website fails the test then it’s time for an update!

Choose Responsive Website Design:

There are not many options for making your website function well on mobile devices. Any option is better than not having any mobile website design but some options are better than others. In order of ascending value, the three most common strategies are:

  • A Separate Mobile Website: On mobile devices your website would redirect to a different URL that uses different HTML to look good on mobile devices. This method often can lead to coding errors and can be expensive to maintain if the setup is not properly done.
  • Dynamic Serving: This type of method uses separate sets of HTML and CSS coding on one url. This method lacks the search index issues of a separate URL mobile website but layout can be complex and maintenance can turn out to be expensive.
  • Responsive Website Design: The same code on the same URL adjust to the user’s device to display correctly on any screen size. This particular method is easier to implement and maintain, and it’s not prone to errors like some of the other options mentioned, and so you save money all while having a site that always looks great. Responsive website design is Google’s recommended design pattern.

Cut to the Chase. Which way is Best?

Separate regular and mobile websites are a management nightmare. You want to advertise a sale, you have to change two websites, your main website and your mobile website. When the sale is over, you have to change them both back.  It gets confusing, time consuming and is extremely prone to human error. And both websites are just that: two separate and distinct websites. The duplication will kill you, digitally. (See: Google Duplicate Content Penalty).  Fuggetit.

Responsive Web Design is the Answer!

A web design built on a responsive web design platform, such as the outrageously popular WordPress platform, dynamically and in real time adapts to fit the screen size of the viewer, whether it’s tablet, smartphone or desktop computer.  The web pages render appropriately, are easier to read, and finding what you’re looking for is so much easier, even with one finger scrolling and navigation. And it’s one website that you need to maintain, and all your content is there, regardless of viewing platform.

How do these so-called “responsive” websites work?  Without going into a bunch of technical jargon, responsive web design is basically a unique under-the-hood set of programming instructions that recognize in real time what size screen the web page is being viewed on and changing the screen layout automatically to match that particular screen size.

At ATS Design Group in Syracuse, we’ve been designing and developing websites that are mobile-friendly and responsive for a number of years. In fact ALL of our new website projects (whether it’s a brand new website or a redesign of an existing website) are built to be fully responsive so our clients can move forward in this mobile-centric digital marketing landscape with comfort and confidence.

Questions?  Give us a call.  Our ATS Web Design Syracuse team will be happy to answer your web design and online marketing questions and help you find the best way forward for your particular website, SEO and Social Media Marketing goals. We specialize in fresh coffee, straight answers, and proven solutions.