We’ve been fans of responsive design for quite a while and have been including it in projects more and more frequently. (Not all clients see the value, though, and since it does have an impact on budgets, it’s not always our call …)
But while it’s clear that responsive design improves usability, we were not as convinced of its SEO value, which has been getting quite a bit of coverage lately. Then we asked our colleague Terri Jenkinss of W3PR for her take.
“I prefer to work with a responsive design website rather than have to deal with a separate mobile site as far as SEO is concerned. Three reasons:
First, it’s better because you don’t have to “split” the SEO (and therefore the link authority) between two sites (a mobile and a regular website).
Second, if you have the same content in a mobile site as is on your regular website, you run the risk of duplicate content issues.
And the third, and most compelling reason is that Google recommends responsive design instead of a separate mobile website. Here’s the link to the post about it: http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2012/06/recommendations-for-building-smartphone.html
There you have it: Terri’s never steered us wrong and really, why would you want to argue with the 400 Lb. Gorilla that is Google?
Seriously, there are occasions where a mobile-specific site, or at last mobile-specific pages, make sense, but in most instances, you’re going to be better served both in terms of usability and SEO performance by a well-crafted responsive design approach. For all but the simplest sites, it’s worth the additional budget required to properly lay out the site at various pre-determined break points.