SEO advantages and disadvantages for Responsive Web Design


Responsive design is getting more attention these days but how does it compare it to the mobile websites in terms of SEO? Learn the SEO advantages of responsive websites over mobile optimized web pages.

Responsive design is a specialized website design approach in which the web pages adapt to various resolutions, browsers or devices and fall into a suitable layout without requiring any customization. A website that follows responsive design will provide an optimal browsing experience in a wide range of devices without requiring much scrolling, panning or adjusting the layout by adapting the user interface.

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Traditional websites offer separate web pages for viewing in mobile devices and desktops. Custom designed mobile pages will have limited amount of information and have custom screens that fit well into the mobile screens. The primary advantage of this approach is, the pages are designed for small screens and they will be light weight and fast for mobile devices with just the content that are absolutely important for the mobile users. Many custom sections like flash objects, large logo, advertisements, welcome message etc will be replaced with small logo and minimal content.



Pros and cons of responsive design


Responsive Web Design Even though this article is about the SEO advantages of responsive design, let us take a quick look at some of the major pros and cons of this web design approach.

Advantages of responsive design


Responsive design is a relatively new design approach. In case of mobile specific web pages, separate pages are designed for mobile devices. But in case of responsive design, there are no separate device pages. Instead, the pages adjust their layout and structure according to the device.

Some of the key advantages of responsive design are:

Reduced development efforts: Since there are no separate web pages designed for mobile devices, the development effort is significantly reduced. You can save time and money by reduced development efforts.

Less maintenance cost: If you use separate device specific pages, you will have the same content served through difference pages in different ways. When you need to make a change in page, you will have to make similar changes in multiple pages. This means extra development and testing cost and also leads to higher chances of error. Responsive design allows you to maintain less number of pages, which means lower maintenance cost.

Consolidated tracking of traffic statistics: Since responsive web design uses a single set of pages for all the devices, your statistics will be more accurate. You don't have to consolidate stats from various device specific pages to get real traffic statistics of your pages. Using advanced analytical tools like Google Analytics, you can get device specific traffic information from your reports.

Social sharing: If you have a single set of pages, you will get better social media advantage. The same url will be shared by different people on different devices and that gives you better recognition for your pages in social media. Also, consider your friend is accessing your pages from a mobile device and share in Facebook. Someone else may be seeing it from a desktop computer and he will end up reading the stripped down version of the page since that is the url shared by your friend. Responsive websites have a single set of urls, irrespective of the device from which it is shared or on which the url is accessed.

Better page rank for your pages: When you have separate pages for various devices, your Page Rank is split across those pages. But responsive design helps you consolidate your Page Rank to a single url for each page since the same page is used to serve for all devices using the single url.

Google recommends responsive design because of the single set of URLs. It is easier for Google to crawl, analyze, index and rank single set of urls instead of having to deal with separate urls meant for each device.

What Google says about responsive design?
Here is a video from Matt Cutts of Google in which he talks about the SEO advantages of using responsive design. According to him, this design approach have better SEo advantage since it consolidates the ranking into a single set of urls. Watch the video:



Disadvantages of responsive web design approach


You already saw the primary benefits of this approach. Now let us take a look at some of the disadvantages as well.

Development expertise: Since the web pages are expected to serve a wide range of devices, the development team should have expertise in responsive design approach. There are several points to consider while developing the web site so that it will adapt to different devices.

More testing: The testing team will have much more efforts to make sure the website can adapt to many devices and work as expected. This may increase your initial development cost.

Heavy pages for mobile devices: Responsive design depends on layouts defined in the CSS files and script files. The design is relatively complex to handle the layout according to the form factors and the devices. This also means, devices like smartphones that require simple layout and stripped down versions of the content will still have to download the heavy CSS and scripts, making it consumer higher bandwidth and increase the loading time.

Support for emerging devices: It is virtually impossible to test the website for all kinds of devices in the market. To make things worse, new devices are emerging often and adapting your web pages for such emerging devices are practically difficult, if not impossible. For example, smart watches are new trend and normal websites may not fit into a small watch screen, even if it is developed using responsive design approach. Supporting new and emerging gadgets will be a challenge for responsive web designers.



Conclusion: Which is better - responsive design or mobile specific pages?


From an SEO perspective, responsive design is the winner. By consolidating your search engine ranking and page ranking into a single set of web pages, you are getting the best SEO benefit. However, considering the challenges and additional cost in development and testing, it may not be the ultimate solution for web design approaches.

Read Expanding and Growing Your Business With the Right Web Design Partners


Article by Tony John
Tony John is a professional blogger from India, who started his first Weblog in 1998 at Tripod.com. Tony switched to blogging as a passion blended business in the year 2000 and currently operates several popular web properties including IndiaStudyChannel.com, Techulator.com, dotnetspider.com and many more.

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Comments

Author: Ekta Raikwar23 Nov 2013 Member Level: Gold   Points : 4

It is a very good article on the advantages and disadvantages of SEO for Responsive Web Design. It tells us about SEO and how it effects to them. As we all know that Responsive design is a specialized website design approach in which the web pages adapt to various resolutions, browsers or devices and fall into a suitable layout without requiring any customization. In this situation a website that follows responsive design will provide an optimal browsing experience in a wide range of devices without requiring much scrolling, panning or adjusting the layout by adapting the user interface.

Your article is an excellent work and tells many advantages of it. The primary advantage of this approach is, the pages are designed for small screens and they will be light weight and fast for mobile devices with just the content that are absolutely important for the mobile users. It has the second advantage that Many custom sections like flash objects, large logo, advertisements, welcome message etc will be replaced with small logo and minimal content.

This article tells us about the advantages of responsive design like reduced development efforts, less maintenance cost, consolidated tracking of traffic statistics, social sharing, better page rank for your pages
, what Google says about responsive design?

This article also express is views on disadvantages of responsive web design approach like, Development expertise, More testing, Heavy pages for mobile devices, Support for emerging devices
So it is very good that you have told the both aspects about it.

Now the question arises that between them which are better - responsive design or mobile specific pages? And there is no doubt that from an SEO perspective, responsive design is the winner. However, considering the challenges and additional cost in development and testing, it may not be the ultimate solution for web design approaches.

At last we can say that you have given an excellent description here. Its language is simple and the reader can understand the ideas that are expressed in this article. The article is able to give the full meaning what the writer wants. And there is no doubt that it has become possible because of the writer’s great skill of telling anything in simple and easy words



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