Should Your SEO Strategy Include Responsive Web Design?

Responsive Web DesignEverywhere we look, mobile devices are popping up. As we move forward in 2013, mobile usage is widely expected to become even more influential on SEO tactics as more and more users really heavily on mobile search. A new development last year was a concept that Google supports, known as responsive web design. Let’s consider where your site should be in regards to responsive web design.

The Basic Premise

It seems safe to assume that the concept of responsive web design is familiar, but here are the basics. John Lynch clarified the foundational idea by suggesting that there are 3 characteristics that typically contribute to responsive web design.

  1. Fluid grid
  2. Media queries
  3. Responsive images

Essentially, the website is broken down into a combination of components that can easily shift around to accommodate various screen sizes on a wide variety of mobile devices.

The Truth about Google

Last summer, the general takeaway from Google’s announcement of support for responsive web design seemed to be that everyone had to get on board. However, Google clearly stated that the most important thing to consider is the user. If responsive web design is not best for the user’s experience, then Google is just fine with a different approach to a mobile site.

The first step for you is to determine if your website will benefit from a responsive web design. Here are some of the factors to consider.

Search Behavior

What search behavior do you see in relation to your mobile site as opposed to your desktop site? A mobile searcher usually wants local info, now. Tons of information about your business might just send them running back to Google. If you’re trying to draw in local business, therefore, responsive web design might just be too overwhelming.

Load Time

Mobile searchers want instant information. A page that takes more than 5 seconds to load might just test their patience for too long. Mobile sites can be tailored to only contain the information the mobile user needs so that the page comes up quickly.


Responsive web design allows you to maintain consistency across the board. All the information is in one place. If a user views your website on his laptop and then later returns via his Smartphone, the experience will be similar enough for him to find the same information easily.

Of course there are many other considerations in building your mobile presence, such as optimization for touch screens, the effect of link building, and the advantages of keeping all your information in one place.

One Final Note

Small businesses have to deliberate how to promote themselves in the world of mobile search. Responsive web design might be too much of a drain on resources, as it takes time and therefore money to set it up. But it is imperative for local businesses to develop an online presence, since local search actually favors nearby businesses.

What kind of mobile presence does your website have?


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Sarah Beth

Sarah Beth Wiltse earned her BA in English at Boston University. Though she currently lives in Dallas, TX, she spent a year in Paris, France after college, cultivating her love of the French language and a passion for travelling. She has spent much of her life developing her skills in the arts, primarily as a ballerina, violinist, and pianist - and now, a writer! Follow her on Twitter!

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