Mobile Web Traffic and its Impact on SEO

It’s official – for the first time in history, as of 2014, Web traffic from mobile devices has outpaced Web traffic from desktops. Nearly everyone, from businesspeople to leisurely browsers, is accessing the Internet on mobile and tablet devices more and more. I recently blogged about how this growing shift in Web usage has revolutionized webpage design and how web designers are transitioning towards responsive design with mobile interface at the forefront.

Now the consequences of a dominant share of mobile Web users are affecting search engine optimization as well. Google announced last year, in so many words, that neglecting user experience on mobile devices will hurt your website’s search engine rankings. It is no longer good enough to patch up a website so that it at least works on mobile devices and then leave it at that. Websites that load too slowly on mobile devices (longer than 1 second), webpages that rely too heavily on Flash, and mobile-switch websites that always redirect mobile users to a splashpage/homepage regardless of which sublevel page they were looking for will see their Google rankings diminished.

And Google is right to make these adjustments. In their quest to supply users, including mobile users, with the best content on the Web, Google should pass over websites that cannot effectively supply content to users on mobile devices.

Google recommends that websites implement responsive web design, for which the website’s HTML remains the same, no matter the user’s device, and CSS styling repositions, resizes, or hides certain elements depending on the screen resolution of the user. Google prefers responsive websites to other types of mobile sites for the simple fact that a responsive website, from the standpoint of its URL structure and its HTML/CSS code, is the same website no matter the device on which it is rendered and therefore can be trusted by Google as a consistent and reliable source of content. Other mobile website strategies, such as dynamic websites (different HTML depending on device) and mobile-switch sites (different URLs depending on device), are prone to misconfigurations that will affect mobile interface and page ranking.

Take a look below at some of the responsive websites that we at Robmark Web have developed for our Savannah web design clients:

Further reading:

The Growing Dominance of Mobile Web Design

It was only seven years ago, in 2007, that Apple released its first iPhone and completely changed the way many folks access the Internet. In those few years, the growing prevalence of mobile devices has been continually shaping the world of web design. Today, what began as merely another branch of Internet marketing is shaping how all web design is taking place. How a website appears on a mobile device is now equally as important, if not more so for some businesses, as its appearance on a desktop.

In the early years of the World Wide Web, most websites relied on copy-heavy webpages. This made sense at a time when almost all users accessed the Internet on desktop or laptop computers with large screens fit for reading large bodies of textual information.

But when smartphones hit the market, mobile users refused to zoom in and scroll through long blocks of text on their small screens. Web designers adapted by switching to ‘mobile-switched sites’, which would display content differently if the website sensed that it was being rendered on a mobile device, usually with textual content larger and easier to read. If you have ever gone to a website on a mobile device and seen the url add ‘m.’ to the beginning, you’ve witnessed a ‘mobile-switch.’

The ‘mobile-switch’ strategy sufficed for a short time before tablet devices and the infamous iPad arrived on the scene in 2010. These new devices were neither here nor there on the resolution spectrum between mobile and desktop, and so simply designing two website interfaces, one for desktop and one for mobile, no longer worked. Websites now had to display on anything from a compact smartphone to a smaller iPad to a larger tablet device to a high-res desktop monitor.

Thus, ‘responsive web design’ came into being, with websites being designed to ‘respond’ to any device’s specifications and to render beautifully in any dimensions at any resolution, thus meeting the customer/viewer on whatever device he/she may choose. This design strategy has led to the integration of more visual website configurations that rely less on copy and more on flexible buttons and images, designs fitting for a touchscreen interface.

Nowadays, with almost half of all Internet traffic taking place through mobile and tablet devices, responsive websites tend to be designed with mobile appearance at the forefront. Sleek visual designs and streamlined user experience have replaced the copy-heavy websites of yesteryear, and more and more websites have that overall mobile interface feel, more suited to a touchscreen than a mouse’s cursor. Mobile web design has begun to ‘wag the dog’ – the aesthetic elements of mobile website design, once only a small part of the Internet marketing world, has revolutionized and now defines cutting-edge web design overall.

Further reading: