Mobile Website Vs Responsive Web Design & How To Update Your SEO

  1. mobile vs responsive website design

A study into the comparison between Mobile Website vs Responsive web design and the effects this could have on your SEO

With the way in which people search and how businesses respond to this we have seen the growth of mobile sites sky rocket over the past couple of years. This has varied between a mobile website on a .mobi domain, responsive web design and apps to access a website / campaign. We have taken a look into how best to serve your website to a mobile visitor who is using a smartphone or tablet.

  • 57

    57% of users won’t recommend your website

  • 40

    40% of visitors turned to a competitor’s website

  • According to Google Mobile Playbook poorly optimised mobile sites are at risk of loosing up to half their mobile audience within the first 5 seconds. This isn’t something you should class as just another statistic, you could and are potentially loosing valuable customers for your business.

    How are people searching on on mobile devices and how do you invest your SEO efforts

    When using responsive, this isn’t really considered an issue. This is to be taken into consideration for mobile m. websites. If you are using responsive over m. website then filter keyword research selecting mobile devices in Google Keyword Tool this will help advise on how to optimise your content without taking away from user experience. You may want to optimise the important pages by shortening the page title – home page and contact page is a good place to start. Then it would be worth filtering through which pages are already receiving the most traffic via a mobile device and optimising that where possible. Java will come into play a lot more to support mobile and desktop usage without looking out of place or messy – therefore reducing user experience.
    If you’re using m. domain optimise for mobile. Use shorter Page titles and optimise page content for Mobile – this doesn’t mean to remove all the content and give a user a shorter version or less than what they can find on the desktop version.

    Implement Shorter page titles. The current trend seems to be target keyword + brand not exceeding 35 characters (compared to desktop of 70)

    Update your meta descriptions. The Current trend one sentence around 80 characters (compared to desktop of no more than 160)

    Now let’s compare… Mobile vs Responsive


    • Risk of duplicate content as this has not been set in stone by Google
    • Create same content as you would on desktop
    • Separate SEO
    • Add tracking codes to URLS
    • Provide users and Google the option of switching to desktop
    • The mobi domain will have NO PR and NO DA
    • Design to be “fat finger” friendly
    • Checkout on most mobile sites redirects back to desktop checkout

    If you are going to design a mobile website over a responsive design then be aware of these two main issues you may come across and how to fix them.

    1. Separate mobile urls, using rel=”alternate” and rel=”canonical”
    2. Dynamic serving different HTML so that the correct version is displayed to desktop vs mobile

    The second point will help improve user experience and reduce your chance of having a high bounce rate.


    • Content stays the same on desktop as with mobile usage
    • Java will help user experience
    • Not reducing what customer sees
    • No risk of duplicate content – unless you create it yourself
    • Able to offer a site that can be used across desktop, mobile and tablet
    • Design to be “fat finger” friendly


    Once you have decided on the path you want to take for your website you will need to understand how link building will play out as you don’t want another hit from Penguin. Its quite simple, just remember these two rules;


    Split of link building from desktop to mobi additional time and resources required. What will be the effect of link building to a mobile site?


    Link building would remain the same as you will still be sending power to your current desktop site

    How to track visitors to your website

    It is essential regardless of the size of your business to have the correct tracking and filters applied so you know how a campaign or your website is performing. According to BDB media 80% of online retailers do not know how to use Google Analytics.  If you use this tool, as many businesses so, start filtering traffic by Desktop & Mobile / Tablet. If you use additional analytic software there should be the option to do this. If you cannot see it then contact your account manager to help set these filters up.

    How does Google crawl a mobile website vs responsive website

    As of yet, this doesn’t effect responsive design, but this could change so keep an eye out for pages that are not indexed and website errors such as 404’s and 301’s.

    Use websmaster tools, there is a different set of results for mobile and desktop. Let Google fetch your site as a mobile device, change this in the drop down menu on the right in “fetch as Google”. When comparing mobile and what you’re showing in SERPs for, make sure you select mobile in search queries to find out what you’re actually appearing for.

    Useful links

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