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How Responsive Web Design Affects SEO Ranking

Creating A Responsive Search Experience

Wireless unplugged us from our desktops. Mobile devices have moved us away from our laptops. As a result, the need to accommodate timely searches and effortless Internet smartphone and tablet browsing is as important as searching from a desktop or laptop device. To be effective, websites must provide a pleasurable user-experience and seamlessly adapt to, and operate across, multiple platforms quickly and effortlessly without compromising the content.

Responsive Web Design (RWD)

Devices come in a wide variety of screen sizes This require the web designer to synchronize the screen content with the device’s capabilities. Mobile solutions have been created separately or provide dynamically-served mobile sites. Responsive web design (RWD), however, has proved to be the best adaptive web design tool to accommodate the changing layouts across numerous devices that are expected to automatically respond to the users’ preferences.

Platform flexibility is key. Responsive web design is a combined use of fluid grids, layouts, images, and CSS media query. Media queries offer the option to specify size range points where the page should change layout. The benefit of this is, the site only has to be designed once and from that, each set can be created. Responsive design adjusts screen resolutions and automatically resizes images. The website’s pages reformat and adapt to the device on which it is being displayed. It is equally responsive to SEO search layout results.

Building Your Website Responsive

Time and budget may dictate how you choose to implement your website. However, the best strategy is implementing a responsive theme which is supported by the commonly-used WordPress platform and compatible plug-ins.

Image download and resolution should be a priority. Content orientations (landscape/portrait) as well as screen size must also be considered. Create fluid images that may be automatically adjusted and/or proportionately resized. They should allow the user the ability to choose content. Best practices for mobile environments include easy navigation and focused content in lists/rows rather than in multiple columns.

Base element (JavaScript) files allow the page to separate responsive images from others which will be redirected as necessary. All page load files are rewritten to their original forms and large/small images are only loaded as needed. This method is supported by old browsers as well as current ones used on mobile devices as well as desktops, laptops, etc.

To avoid making the Apple (iPhone, iPad) user zoom in and out due to the scaling down of text and images, the web designer may use the viewpoint meta tag to override the resizing annoyance. Some resizing issues may require changing the layout entirely, using a separate style sheet or CSS media query. CSS also allows content to be shown or hidden, which allows the user to pick/choose what they want to see and not see.

Side notes to keep in mind: Responsive design follows the basic lessons of UX design, readable line lengths, line heights that permit easy movement between the lines, and comfortable letter spacing. Also remember that touchscreens are not just on smaller devices. Design for larger touchscreen displays (desktops, laptops) as well as for cursor-based interactions.

Making Your Content Flow

You’ve strategized the basics. Making the content flow of the responsive site presents the next challenge. Strive for clarity, simplicity, and user-friendliness.

  1. Use headings to break responsive design content into “scannable chunks.”
  2. Images may be shifted left, right, top, bottom.
  3. Group additional pieces of information that directly relate to the content in their own section (before or after the relevant paragraph(s)).
  4. Design around a blog post, product page, or other central content (such as the “About Us” page).
  5. Always keep the navigation bar visible for ease of use.

How To Reap The Benefits Of A Responsive Web Design

One URL to a website please.

Building a separate mobile website has its benefits. A refined mobile browsing response does not require the users to continually scroll to navigate through the content. However, building separate mobile sites requires building the authority from the ground up (URL and HTML to the desktop). Additionally, Google does not rank separate mobile sites well in search engines.

Conversely, Google does not divide the page rank for responsive sites. Redesigning the website to be responsive allows you to maintain backlinks and focus the SEO on a single site. Links are directed to one domain, boosting the website in the SERPs. Responsive websites allow the designer to build social shares for just one URL. When the link is viewed and the website is shared, regardless of the device being used, all content will be clear and simple to navigate. Additionally, the website that routinely responds to the user’s preferences eliminates the need to design and development a new platform each time a new product comes to market.

Google “loves” responsive.

It is wise to listen to and understand what Google suggests since they are the ones websites attempt to win favor. Mobile-friendliness is paramount to search results. Google contends more than half of all searches come from mobile devices. Google is all about SEO and the user experience. If the website is not mobile-friendly, it does not effectively respond to SEO. Responsive web design emphasizes designing for the user and their preferences. Because Google considers the user experience a significant factor, Google encourages developers to support RWD.

Google may downgrade your website if it detects more than one platform for desktop and mobile. Google may also gradually reduce the pages’ ranking due to a delayed download time. RWD’s single URL code base for all devices means faster crawling and better page rankings, which is endorsed by Google.

Decreasing Your Bounce Rate

You want to keep users on your website and not be tempted to leave to find another site that is easier to navigate from their device. Google also monitors and measures bounce rates between mobile and other devices. They boldly state that “60% of your mobile users will go to a competitor” if they find the site is non-responsive. They recommend RWD as the most effective means of targeting mobile users, although they agree mobile-optimized sites are effective when users search for local services on a mobile device.

Responsive design is cost effective and flexible and anticipates the future to some degree. Visitors that stay on the website increase brand awareness, exhibit more customer commitment, and tend to purchase more which increases the company’s revenue.

Regardless how well the website performs in search results, it must effectively work on both mobile and tablet devices to avoid bounce rate issues. Mobile websites experience high bounce rates not only due to download delays but also when the content shown is minimized from, or unrelated to content offered on their full-size, full-range desktop site. Google interprets this high bounce rate as an indication the website does not offer content users deem relevant. A rating downgrade may result.

A responsively-designed mobile device site functionally shows the same content found on the desktop site. RWD does not require the content to be minimized or compromised regardless of on what device it is displayed. This protects the integrity of the information.

Improve The User Experience

The number of Internet users increases daily. New devices are continually released and not all RWD solutions will ever completely succeed for every user, device, or platform. When implemented correctly, however, responsive web design can improve the user experience.

Websites are designed with the intent to share content. A RWD user-friendly site makes it easier to find, view, and send this content to others. Web design can overlook many devices which fall between desktop and mobile versions (i.e.: iPad and netbooks), or that are larger (i.e.: TVs). Then site visitors begin requesting a specific version or complain the designers “need to appify” their site for specific devices.

Responsive design helps websites appeal to users who are increasingly likely to navigate the Internet using their smartphone or tablet, but expect the experience to be identical to navigating the Internet on their desktop. RWD is the most effective way to maximize mobile traffic and offer the best possible user experience. For example, when a user sees something while browsing on their desktop and sends it to a friend who will open and view it on their smartphone, the RWD website is responsive. RWD allows this exchange to occur seamlessly without any content loss or minimization.

Sustain Your Competitive Advantage

Targeting specific devices and resolutions consume time and expense. Responsive websites aid development by keeping businesses ahead of trends as well as maintaining website relevance. RWD helps future-proof the website, which reduces the need to continually redesign the site to accommodate new devices entering the market.

The best solution for achieving and sustaining a competitive advantage is to attract, keep, and induce repeat visits to your website. Reducing upload time for your mobile users is paramount. Mobile users need it quickly and want it now! The primary reason mobile users abandon is typically due to slow landing/first page load times. Five seconds can seem like an eternity to a mobile user. Once the user is gone, they seldom if ever return.


Websites are tools for sharing content. They should present the best possible user experience and be easily accessed, viewed, and shared on and among any number of devices and platforms. Responsive web design allows content to correspond with the users preferences. RWD is endorsed by Google.