Which does Google prefer: Mobile site vs Responsive Design.

I had a conversation with one of our clients last week about the difference between Mobile friendly sites and responsive sites and how they are viewed through Google’s eyes. I decided it would be a good time to write a blog explaining the differences in plain English.

Before you read this blog it is worth noting that these changes have just taken place so if you check your rankings right now on a mobile device they may be all over the place. Generally we say wait about 4 weeks when Google make a change to see where you rankings end up, so don’t panic just yet!

A bit of background info about the Changes:

22nd February 2015, Google announced on their webmaster blog that they would be changing their algorithm on mobile devices to favour sites that are mobile friendly. They also introduced a mobile friendly testing tool which basically tells you whether your website fits within their guidelines or not (worth checking at this point if you haven’t already). According to this tool, if you have a ‘mobile version’ of your site you are mobile friendly, the same goes for if your website is responsive (I’ll touch on this a bit later).

Do Google prefer Mobile or Responsive?

What wasn’t clear with the mobile algorithm change was whether responsive sites would be favoured over mobile sites, well it turns out, they are and with good reason. Google consider responsive sites to be ‘best practice’ and with good reason. Responsive sites are designed around maximising user experience and generally are a more efficient way to browse content on mobile devices. Responsive design has been around for a while however depending on the industry you are in it may not have surfaced as a concept until now. Generally responsive sites are more expensive to build is the simple reason why. Google have forced the mobile friendly issue because they want the most user friendly results displayed when a someone uses their search bar.

The 2 main reasons Google prefer responsive (from their POV)

1) Mobile sites require a different URL for it to crawl and index multiple versions of the same site. You can still create mobile website pages, but you will need to use rel canonical tags to tell Google which page they should account for in rankings since you have duplicate content from your mobile and non-mobile website. This is why it’s just easier to have one responsive site that covers all of this. Consistency is key.

2) Much better user experience as the website is consistent across all devices. A well put together responsive site is much easier to use than a mobile site and the user journey is seamless compared to a mobile site. Better user experience = Reduced bounce rate, this effectively leads to higher rankings as Google uses bounce rate (among many other things) as a metric for ranking.

Google are basically all about user experience. If you think about their search bar as their main ‘product’, the function of it is to deliver the best results for the key terms entered. Responsive sites are just simply better than mobile sites in every way, hence why they rank better

I have a mobile site not responsive, what should i do?

If you have a mobile site it is the not the end of the world by any means. Rest assured you will still rank ahead of those that don’t have mobile sites, which if you work in the property industry is most people. If your website is a year or 2 years old it is worth changing now because you will gain a major advantage over your competitors and your website will be set for for the future. Here are a few stats that might convince you responsive is the way to go:

1. 60% of all internet use is now on mobile devices, according to InMobi.

2. According to Google and Nielson, consumers spend more than 15 hours a week researching on their smart phones, and they start their research on search engines 48% of the time.

3. According to a survey conducted by iAcquire, 70% of mobile searches lead to action on websites within an hour—and…

4. 40% of mobile users will choose another search result if the one they land on isn’t mobile-friendly. (45% of mobile users in the age group of 18 to 29 years old do mobile searches daily.)

If you have a website that isn’t mobile friendly and you are looking for consultation on the best way to move forward we would be happy to help. At Technicweb build all of our sites responsive and we have many different affordable options available for every different kind of Estate Agent, just call 0845 301 1198 or email [email protected] to speak to one of our consultants.

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