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RWD and SEO

Google is changing its search technique to " mobile first ". How will this affect us ?

  3 Nov 2017   admin

google bot crawling mobile graphic

I apologise for not only using a three letter acronym in the title, I’ve actually used two ! The problem I have, is that, if I unravelled the acronyms the title would be far too long.

You may or may not know that RWD stands for responsive web design, it may have other meanings but in the context of this blog we are talking about websites and the internet.

If you have read my previous blog, you will already know that SEO is the acronym for search engine optimisation. This is fairly self explanatory in that if you optimise your website or blog according to the search engine’s, say Google, Bing and Yahoo, guide lines then not only will they be able to find you on the internet but they may rank you fairly high and put your site on the upper tier search pages. At this time it is worth mentioning that you will come across a four letter acronym SERP. This stands for search engine results page. This is the page(s) that your browser pulls up when you enter a word or phrase in the search bar.

To return to responsive web design. How we view the internet web pages is changing all the while. The latest figures released by Google show that 60% of page searches are now carried out by mobile devices. These figures from Googles point of view allude to smart phones rather than tablets or similar devices. You can see from this figure that it is most important that a website’s pages can be easily viewed by a smart phone user. If not, you are not only missing out on a figure that is steadily growing above 60%, you may be penalised by Google and drop down the SERPs.

There are three ways that a website can offer mobile functionality.

  • Design additional pages of content, sized for a mobile phone. Unfortunately this would mean a different URL ( uniform resource locator ), that’s the address that comes up in the browser address bar, and two lots of the same content, giving the website a high file content and making it slower to render. Whilst this gives the opportunity to tailor a site perfectly for a mobile experience there is always the problem that errors could creep in and content across the two pages could be different. Search engines would pick this up and a downgrade would follow. You will also need to have some experience of coding as each site will need to point to the other one for the search engine.
  • Dynamic serving of pages. A complicated technical design which of course means high costings for maintenance and or updating.
  • Responsive web design, RWD. The website is designed on a percentage grid system which renders correctly whichever device it is viewed on, ie 100% on a desktop and 100% on a smart phone can be viewed as the same content. However, the downside is that it will not be a fully centralised mobile experience unless the site is designed “ mobile first “. In other words, all the images and text are placed on the pages in a way that they render, not only correctly on a mobile device, but the experience for the mobile user is the best that can be achieved.

google bot with sign mobile first

Google has stated that it prefers responsive web design for its algorithm. Google’s algorithm is its problem solver, question answer bot, etc which crawls across the pages of the internet, storing bits of useful information in its vast libraries. This is the piece of kit that decides which SERP the web page should be on.

NEXT YEAR, 2018, GOOGLE HAS STATED THAT THE SEARCH ALGORYTHM WILL BE “ MOBILE FIRST “. This is overdue as it was discussed in 2014. The SERP will be dependent on Google crawling the mobile version of the website’s pages. We are informed that websites with a high ranking and of course they will be mobile friendly to get their high ranking, will not be affected. I am not so sure.
It can only be a matter of time before a site built for mobile will outrank a desktop mobile friendly site. This means more work for designers and developers as well as SEO engineers.

If you are embarking on building a new website or starting a business designing or developing websites then you need to ensure that all your pages can be viewed correctly on a smart phone and it provides a good experience for the user.
Remember, the USER IS KING, not Google.


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