Understanding How Responsive Website Design and SEO Work Together

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You might be surprised to find out that there’s a link between how responsive your website design is and how highly your site will rank on Google. In recent years, Google’s ranking algorithm has changed, and while quality content, keywords, meta descriptions, and backlinks are still important, the actual user experience is absolutely critical for SEO success.

What Is Responsive Website Design?

Before you can check your own website to see if it’s “responsive,” it helps to know precisely what the term means. Basically, responsive design means that the web pages automatically adjust to fit the size of the screen. When this is done right, all of your visitors will have a stellar user experience, whether they’re viewing your website on a big-screen television, a laptop, or on the latest iPhone.

ME Brands Website Redesign on iPad and iPhone
One of our portfolio items is ME Brands’s website, showcasing responsive website design. For more details, explore the ME Brands website project.

How Responsive Design Can Improve SEO

Search engine optimisation is a complicated, ever-changing field, but it can be relatively easy to climb the ranks of Google when it’s done right. Further, Google announced a few years ago that it was going to index sites using a “mobile-first” strategy. In other words, Google is crawling websites and deciding where to rank them based primarily on the mobile version of your website.

From an SEO performance perspective, Google is rewarding sites that deliver on a responsive design experience. This is because of Google’s mission of being the primary source of organising the world’s information on the Internet. When someone types something into the search engine, they should be able to easily find exactly what they’re looking for.

A computer monitor displays colorful doodles and text related to SEO, including a light bulb and gears, emphasizing creativity and sharing.

Here’s how responsive design and SEO ultimately work together:

Users stay on the site longer because it actually looks good. They’ll also be more likely to interact with your content. And, because your site is responsive, it boasts faster load speeds. As a result, people will stick around instead of bouncing back to the search results because they got tired of waiting.

As Google has prioritised the user experience, it has looked closely at these two factors:

  • Time on site
  • Engagement metrics (like clicking)

By creating a website or improving your current site, to make it responsive, you can actually see your site begin to climb the ranks of Google.

Tips To Improve Responsive Design

  1. Design for mobile devices first. Mobile devices account for 60% of web traffic worldwide, and that number continues to rise. Therefore, as you are designing your website, consider the mobile experience first, and then adjust accordingly.
  2. Utilise responsive CSS frameworks. As the “mobile first” design ethos has taken off, there are now responsive CSS frameworks that can make this task easier. As a reminder, these frameworks contain ready-built, pre-designed code components that help you style elements like buttons, text, forms, etc.
  3. Scale images and videos. Large videos and images can make your site perform sluggishly. This, in turn, can have an adverse effect on your SEO efforts.

Maximise the SEO Benefits of Having a Responsive Website Design

A computer screen with a graphic labeled "WEB DESIGN" surrounded by design icons, on a desk with a coffee cup and plant.

Another major factor in responsive web design is the concept of website accessibility. Specifically, a website that implements responsive best practices also ensures that the site itself is accessible to all users. This also includes deaf, blind and disabled people.

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