Responsive sites rank higher?


kellylarson

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I was just told by an SEO consultant that Google prefers a site built responsively over a site with a mobile website. Just want to check my facts. Is that for certain and if so does it make a big impact on your ranking?

Thanks!
Kelly
 

djbaxter

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As far as I know, that's incorrect. Google's official comments on the topic are that visitors using a mobile device should be redirected to the appropriate format for their device. Whether that occurs as a redirection to a separately constructed version of the site or as a downsized "responsive" site is immaterial.

If you use a separate mobile version, I believe I read somewhere in the policies that it should be clearly designated as such, e.g., m.amazon.com rather than just amazon.com.

If anyone knows of anything that contradicts my comments here, please do wade in. :)
 

kellylarson

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Thanks for your help with that. My client was being told they need to recreate their site to a responsive design. In this case, I did not think it warranted the effort if only for the hopes of complying with recommendation that it needed to be responsive and their ranking issues would be solved.

Thanks!
Kelly
 

djbaxter

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Google has a long article on the pros and cons of each approach to sites for mobile devices here: https://developers.google.com/webmasters/smartphone-sites/details

Google does indicate that it has a preference for responsive designs and lists the reasons why, but there's no indication anywhere that I can see that this provides a ranking advantage over other options for mobile sites.

See also: Official Google Webmaster Central Blog: Responsive design – harnessing the power of media queries and https://developers.google.com/webmasters/smartphone-sites/website-improvement-checklist

There's a good discussion of the pros and cons here: Google Groups

And here is Matt Cutts discussing the issue:

 

Greg Schueler

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The problem that Google dislikes is when a searcher clicks on a link to a specific page and then they are redirected to a mobile home page (and not that specific page).

For example, if I was searching for blue widgets in Las Vegas and in the search results I see the link mysite.com/products/blue-widgets and I click it (on my phone) and i end up at m. mysite .com which then I would have to click through the mobile web site and try to find that specific page if it is even there.

Also applies to blog posts (articles) that redirect in the same way.

Responsive sites prevent this bad user experience from happening. M-Dot site versions (or even external mobile site scripts) can also work if they are set up on a page by page correlation, but most people just make any give page re-direct to the mobile home landing page, which isn't always a good thing.
 

painperdu

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I would say that the KISS philosophy applies to something like this. If responsive design means less things can go wrong then that should be your choice.
 

djbaxter

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The problem that Google dislikes is when a searcher clicks on a link to a specific page and then they are redirected to a mobile home page (and not that specific page).

For example, if I was searching for blue widgets in Las Vegas and in the search results I see the link mysite.com/products/blue-widgets and I click it (on my phone) and i end up at m. mysite .com which then I would have to click through the mobile web site and try to find that specific page if it is even there.

Also applies to blog posts (articles) that redirect in the same way.

Responsive sites prevent this bad user experience from happening. M-Dot site versions (or even external mobile site scripts) can also work if they are set up on a page by page correlation, but most people just make any give page re-direct to the mobile home landing page, which isn't always a good thing.
Agreed. But that's poor redirection and easily avoided with an appropriate .htaccess file.
 

Ashwin

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Responsiveness actually has nothing much to do with redirecting to a mobile friendly site.

Most websites that are built today come responsive out of the box and it makes sense to go responsive primarily because ~25% of local searches are mobile and you don't want customers bouncing off a site that doesn't render properly in mobile.

As for whether responsiveness affects how Google ranks your website - the answer is NO. The Googlebot doesn't really know whether a site is responsive or not while crawling the page.
 

Goku770

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Honestly I switched to a responsive theme and saw immediate boost in ranking from page 6 to 1. This has just been my experience though

---------- Post Merged at 08:01 AM ---------- Previous Post was at 08:00 AM ----------

Also has everyone not heard that moblie is gaining? Desktops will be obsolete in the future
 

djbaxter

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Honestly I switched to a responsive theme and saw immediate boost in ranking from page 6 to 1. This has just been my experience though
That doesn't mean the theme was responsible for the change in ranking, of course.

Also has everyone not heard that moblie is gaining? Desktops will be obsolete in the future
Doubtful.
 

steven

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My 2 cents re: if responsive is better for seo:

If you're talking about whether to use a dedicated mobile site or responsive (alone) for local businesses, I would lean towards the dedicated mobile site. SEO-wise, if you implement correctly, you should be ok either way.

Here's more info on that:

https://developers.google.com/webmasters/smartphone-sites/details

I always say, you do what's in the best interest of your client, and not the best interest of google (but pay attention to their guidelines).

You want to optimize for the mobile user's intent, not a desktop user which is what responsive is. You want to put your calls to action towards the top, like a click to call button & gps map for directions (That is if you are mainly looking to increase phone calls and foot traffic, which is usually a locals business' intent). You want your site to load in 2 seconds or so on a smartphone, and with responsive, if the page is heavy with too much data and images and what not, it can cause page load speed issues. That can be a problem. Mainly, you want to give your mobile visitors a great user experience so they come back. And you don't have that control with responsive.

That said responsive (alone) is ideal for large information sites like blogs, news site, e-commerce... Generally websites that get updated frequently.

But here's my caveat: Why not both? That's the ideal. The reason for that is, the all-important tablet user prefers the desktop site vs a dedicated mobile site. So you're customizing for the experience that the user is coming from.

Sorry if I went slightly off-topic, but I thought it important to keep the mobile user experience in mind when dealing with clients in addition to working on SEO for desktop & mobile.
 

Laustin1878

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I look at responsive vs mobile the same way flash is to html 5. It's newer, more current, more hip, at least so it seems. I've seen a lot more responsive sites being developed across the web.

I recently helped develop 3 websites that were all built on responsive themes. I saw no boost in rankings because of this. There was a decline in rankings but that was because of redesigning the sites. I have yet to see any evidence supporting the use of a mobile site vs responsive design aiding or hurting rankings.

As noted, do what is best for the end user and based on the goals of the client. There is no doubt, at least in anything that i've seen, there is a rapidly increasing upward trend of mobile users accessing websites (this includes tablets). I don't think that desktops are going obsolete but there are many more devices out there that are capable of full browsers which are being used for searching. It's more convenient 95% of the time IMO.
 

steven

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"there is a rapidly increasing upward trend of mobile users accessing websites"

Ain't that the truth?
 

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