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SEO Best Practices: Is Your Site Fully Responsive?

posted by Michael Epps Utley Michael Epps Utley
Responsive devices

Having a responsive website has a range of benefits for your user experience, your lead generation strategy, and your customers' satisfaction. Here's how to make sure it gets done according to SEO best practices, so that your ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs) can continue improving.

What to Know About Responsive Websites

What Is a Responsive Website?

Responsive websites are built, developed, and maintained with a commitment to responsive web design (RWD). RWD is a multifaceted approach that includes taking steps to ensure your website:

  • Maintains interactivity and ease of use no matter what device someone is using (desktop, mobile, or tablet)

  • Performs consistently no matter what screen size it's being viewed on

  • Is intuitive for smartphone users when it comes to taking action and engaging with content

Responsive web design should be a consideration when planning any website changes, content migrations, or expansions.

Why Does Responsive Web Design Matter?

While Google hasn't explicitly said responsive design itself is a ranking factor, they have said they prefer responsive design over websites that have separate designated sites for desktop and mobile. This is likely because it's easier for Google Bots to correctly crawl and interpret a single responsive website when there's a risk that separate websites, even for the same brand, may not be indexed correctly, which may cause ranking issues.

There are two aspects of responsive design that certainly impact SEO rankings:

  • Mobile-friendliness. Google made this a ranking factor several years ago due to the overwhelming increase in mobile internet use. Google ranks sites designed for mobile users higher than other websites, even if you're Google searching on your desktop.

  • Page Speed: Page speed is integral to responsiveness: how quickly pages load for users points to how well they can interact with the content and take action on the website.

When in doubt, test your web pages using the Google Page Speed tool. Keep an eye on your mobile and desktop scores, and make meaningful improvements as you notice significant slowdowns.

How Do I Check for Responsive Design?

Perhaps the easiest way to check for responsive design is to look at your website on your smartphone. As you do this, notice how quickly or slowly pages load, how much scrolling or clicking you have to do, and if the information you'd likely need is easy to find.

Remember what a mobile user is typically doing when looking at sites on their phone. They're likely looking for a phone number, directions, or the hours you do business. Depending on their needs, they might want to talk to someone on your team, or they might be looking for answers to frequently asked questions.

Checking for responsive web design means making sure you can take actions like that quickly and easily on your phone. If you can, your customers and site visitors can, too.

How Do I Make My Website More Responsive?

For starters, use features that are a good fit for mobile. A click-to-call phone number in the top-right of your header is a great first step. We recommend taking a less is more approach, since you're working with a smaller screen. Put only essential, core pages in your top navigation menu, and shape and format links and buttons so they're easy for a mobile user to find and click.

When adding or editing website forms, think of how much space each field takes up on a phone screen. Keep the form basic, and remove any fields your sales team can collect on a call. Name, email, a space for a message, and a send button are all you need.

Along with making it obvious how to contact you, and making that contact easier and more accessible, invite site users to connect with you in ways that make sense for them while they're using their smartphone. Include a mobile-friendly call to action on each page near the bottom. It can be a click-to-call button that says "Call Us", a short form, or both.

While many opportunities for a more responsive site can be found by exploring the site on your own phone, it's always important to know, rather than guess, what's working and what isn't. Regularly monitoring your site analytics keeps responsiveness front of mind and helps your team see how any content additions and website changes are faring with mobile users.

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