Should You Use Responsive Design Instead Of Mobile Sites For Better SEO?


Should You Use Responsive Design Instead Of Mobile Sites For Better SEO?
What is the best way to mobile optimize your website while keeping the best possible SEO profile? There are various ways to deliver your site content to mobile users, which include having a responsive design, and having a separate mobile (m.xyz.com) website. All have their merits and de-merits. But which one is the most viable option from a SEO point-of-view? Should you use responsive web design to deliver web content to mobile users, instead of redirecting to separate mobile version of a webpage?


Responsive Web Design versus Mobile pages

RWD (Responsive Web Design) is probably the most popular mobile optimization technique used in websites today. It involves designing content that automatically resizes and rearranges itself to fit the screen size and resolution of any user-agent (device). Since the content itself is redirecting, there's no need to create custom redirects to other mobile pages, or changing the on-page content itself.

Responsive Web Design

In contrast, having a specialized mobile version of a webpage relies on custom redirections to direct mobile users towards different versions of a webpage. Smartphone and tablet users get redirected to an - optimized version of a page respectively. This implementation allows you fully customise your content for a mobile audience, since it’s often an independently hosted solution. This also means you need to make separate updates for content or styling pieces to ensure a smooth user experience.

Mobile pages - what could go wrong?

Both of these optimization techniques are widely popular, and there's nothing inherently wrong with any of them. Both have an equal impact on SEO, and superiority of one over the other cannot be claimed, not without facts anyway.

But here's the catch. It matters not what you implement, but how you implement it.

Canonicalization

Mobile pages are served on a different sub-domain, and hence contain the same content, but hosted on an entirely different page (URI). There's the problem of redirection, which needs to be handled carefully, or else it would be ill-perceived by search engines.

Because the two pages contain more or less the same content, you need to use the rel="canonical" very carefully. People often make mistakes while using rel="canonical", and hence end up doing more harm than good. Mobile pages are only worth it if you set them up correctly.

Here are some best practices for using rel="canonical" properly.

User experience

In the end, it all comes down to user-experience. I've seen some exceptional mobile sites, and some really horrible responsive designs. So the only thing that really matters is how well are users reacting to your optimization techniques. Remember: you're creating content for users, not search engines.

Got any questions? Feel free to ask us in the comments section below. Hope this post helped. Cheers :)


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