Google: “Use Responsive Design!”

Some sites that I work on get more than half their traffic from mobile devices (tech-speak for “smart phones”). Not all of them — some businesses appeal more to a demographic of people looking at a big screen on a desk — but many, and the number will do nothing but increase. For while we’ve known that the mobile era is coming. Now it’s arrived. (To be accurate, it arrived a while back when I was paying attention to other things, but now I’ve noticed it.)

The mobile era won’t change the fact that some 95% of web interactions begin with search and the importance of search presence (SEO, SEM, etc.) won’t diminish along with the use of big screens, so, as we choose strategies for adapting our site designs for different screen sizes we need to check in to see how those strategies will effect our search rankings.

In this article, Google settles the question:

We recommend using responsive web design because it has many good aspects:

  • Using a single URL for a piece of content makes it easier for your users to interact with, share, and link to your content, and a single URL for the content helps Google’s algorithms assign the indexing properties for the content.
  • No redirection is needed for users to get to the device-optimized view, which reduces loading time. Also, user agent-based redirection is error-prone and can degrade your site’s user experience (see “Pitfalls when detecting user agents” section for details).
  • It saves resources for both your site and Google’s crawlers. For responsive web design pages, any Googlebot user agents needs to crawl your pages once, as opposed to crawling multiple times with different user agents, to retrieve your content. This improvement in crawling efficiency can indirectly help Google index more of the site’s contents and keep it appropriately fresh.

So, that’s one thing we don’t need to think about anymore.