There are a number of factors that affect how well your website is optimised for both users and search engines. Web design is closely linked to SEO, so we take a look at some of the ways that responsive web design has a positive impact on how search engines view your website.
Responsive Web Design (RWD) is an approach to web design that involves building web pages that will render well across a variety of devices and screen sizes, such as desktop, mobile and tablet.
In the past, websites were built with desktop viewing in mind, which meant that they were often clumsy to view and navigate on mobile devices. A traditional way to navigate this was to create a separate version of your website for mobile, but in recent years it has become essential to create one responsive, mobile-first website that immediately responds well on a range of screens.
User experience and SEO are closely interlinked, so a website that works well for a user will also be valued more highly by Google. Responsive web design is one of the keys to making sure users explore your site and visit multiple pages – it makes it easier to access and navigate, meaning people will spend more time on pages and are more likely to return.
As well as this, Google has moved to prioritise a “mobile-first” approach in recent years. Now that more than 50% of website traffic is coming from mobile devices, the search engine needs to deliver a positive experience for these users, so is more likely to highly rank responsive websites.
Page load speed is a ranking factor for Google, due to the fact that more than half of website visits are abandoned if a mobile page takes over 3 seconds to load, and responsive web design can help improve it across all devices. Mobile sites, in particular, are notorious for not loading quickly enough, so you can get ahead of your competitors by making sure your website is fast and responsive on all devices and screens.
There is a common misconception that bounce rate is caused by users leaving your site straight away. This is not necessarily true – it is calculated by the number of users who only visit one page on your site for any length of time – but will likely include those who “bounce” immediately.
If your website doesn’t respond quickly on mobile, users may get frustrated and go elsewhere. Moreover, even if the site loads fairly quickly but it is difficult to navigate on a certain device or doesn’t encourage a clear path for users, they may leave even after staying on one page for a short while.
While bounce rate is not directly a ranking factor, it is a sure signal that your website is not well optimised for users or search engines, and responsive web design can help you to improve this.
If you have a mobile or tablet version of your site as well as the main site, certain pages will be duplicated – and this can be confusing to Google when it comes to which content to prioritise in the search results.
Responsive web design involves creating a single, mobile-responsive site that eliminates the duplicate content that can be created if two or more versions of the site are developed.
Having a good number of high-authority links pointing to your site is very important for your SEO as it is one of the main ranking signals for Google.
If your website is slow or unresponsive, third-party publishers may feel uneasy about linking to it, because they will be sending their audience to a slow or low-quality website. However, if you have a responsive website that can be easily accessed, this is another reason for publishers to consider linking to your website.
These are just a few of the reasons that responsive web design benefits your SEO too – a good experience for users is a good experience for search engines, after all!