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There are a number of ways to provide a mobile-friendly website. A single responsive site is the superior option.
Google is making a significant change to its search algorithm in March 2021, effectively declaring that its mobile-first as the search giant will now make the mobile version of a website the first version it looks at in determining search rankings.
As a result, search rankings and Google Ad fees for a website that isn't mobile-friendly are expected to be negatively impacted in 2021 as the mobile-first strategy is implemented.
We’ve previously provided an overview of Google’s switch to mobile-first indexing, including the scope of the changes, who is likely to be most affected, and questions you can ask yourself to begin assessing the state of your mobile site. We’ve also detailed how a strong content management system (website platform) eases the transition. And we’re offering free mobile-friendliness assessments to let companies know their readiness for Google’s switch.
There are a number of ways to provide a mobile-friendly website, including using a mobile site and a desktop site as two different sites and simply providing one responsive site that adjusts to the screen size that it’s on.
We consider the single responsive site to be the superior option for providing a mobile-friendly web presence, and this piece explains why.
Any approach that involves two different websites lends itself to more variability in search engine rankings -- or extra work to make them match.
Any approach that involves two different websites lends itself to more variability in search engine rankings; unless great care is taken to make the sites match, then one is going to perform better in rankings than the other.
Granted, even on a single responsive site that adjusts to the viewport, there are likely to be differences in how the site performs on mobile and on desktop. However, there usually is not a need to create a new, even greater variable by using two different sites.
The greater the difference between the mobile site and the desktop site, the greater the chance for Google’s mobile-first switch to disproportionately affect one of the sites, so it’s best to minimized the differences by using a single responsive site.
Matching the sites becomes arduous ongoing maintenance in both content and coding.
Matching two websites may seem simple at first – you post content to one, then you post it to the other. But over the long haul every website update becomes double the work.
And content isn’t the only matter to match. Deeper, code-level elements like metadata and structured data would need to match. (SEO-centric blog Moz provides a list that also includes hreflang, social metadata, XML sitemaps, app indexation, server capacity and switchboard tags.).
Before long, matching the sites becomes arduous ongoing maintenance in both content and coding.
Making the existing desktop site responsive takes less time than creating a whole new mobile site.
This pertains to companies who don’t have a mobile site already. Rather than build an entirely new mobile site, it will take less development time to make the existing desktop site responsive.
Much of the work can be accomplished through CSS media queries, which is website code that tells elements on the website to render differently when the viewport is below a certain size. For example, a photo that looks great at 1,000 pixels wide on desktop will not look great on mobile where the screen is typically less than 600 pixels wide. The media query would resize the photo based on the mobile or desktop viewport.
Google recommendations are often like a the Godfather’s offers: they can’t be refused.
And if none of the previous reasons were convincing enough, there’s this one: Google recommends responsive web design.
Google recommendations are often like a the Godfather’s offers: they can’t be refused. Case in point: if Google is going to using mobile websites for the basis of it’s search rankings, you need a strong mobile site.
The recommendation for a responsive website design happens to be a bit less draconian, however. Google recommends responsive design simply because it’s the easiest path to mobile friendliness easier for you.
"Google recommends Responsive Web Design because it's the easiest design pattern to implement and maintain,” according to Google.
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