I’m sure it is no surprise to you that mobile internet usage has skyrocketed over the last few years. A recent report from Morgan Stanley predicts that mobile internet usage will match that of desktop internet usage in 2014.
Google is keenly aware of this trend. As a result, they have published their recommendations.
Smartphone optimized configurations for websites that Google recognizes.
- Sites that use responsive web design, i.e. sites that serve all devices on the same set of URLs, with each URL serving the same HTML to all devices and using just CSS to change how the page is rendered on the device. This is Google’s recommended configuration.
- Sites that dynamically serve all devices on the same set of URLs, but each URL serves different HTML (and CSS) depending on whether the user agent is a desktop or a mobile device.
- Sites that have separate mobile and desktop URLs.
Why does Google recommend responsive web design?
There are several reasons why responsive design is the best choice for serving content on mobile platforms. These include:
- Using a single URL for a piece of content makes it easier for your users to interact with, share, and link to your content, and a single URL for the content helps Google’s algorithms assign the indexing properties for the content.
- No redirection is needed for users to get to the device-optimized view, which reduces loading time. Also, user agent-based redirection is error-prone and can degrade your site’s user experience (see “Pitfalls when detecting user agents” section for details).
- It saves resources for both your site and Google’s crawlers. For responsive web design pages, any Googlebot user agents needs to crawl your pages once, as opposed to crawling multiple times with different user agents, to retrieve your content. This improvement in crawling efficiency can indirectly help Google index more of the site’s contents and keep it appropriately fresh.