Google has been focusing on mobile search over the past few years, which is understandable since more people are now using smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, and other mobile devices to access the Web. Some of the changes made to encourage a boost in mobile-friendliness are independent of desktop rankings. However, there are times when improving a website’s responsiveness can have an impact on its desktop rankings. The experts at Saba SEO, a leading web design company in San Diego, discuss the impact of mobile redesign on desktop rankings.
What Is Mobile Compatibility?
Mobile compatibility refers to efforts to make a website accessible for mobile visitors. Some businesses prefer to create two separate sites, one for desktop and one for mobile. With adaptive web design, multiple versions of the same page are created. Responsive web design is what Google prefers because it allows a single version of a site to adjust to whatever screen it’s viewed on, so there’s no need to deal with sub-domains and content division.
Page Speed Affects Both Desktop and Mobile Rankings
Google now considers page speed an important ranking factor, which means you need to improve the page loading speed for your mobile and desktop website versions. However, if you have a responsive design, page speed improvements should help you out with both rankings.
Mobile vs. Desktop Rankings
Google has now fully shifted to what it refers to as “mobile-first indexing,” which means they consider how a site appears on mobile devices first for ranking purposes. There are still two indexes, so the preference for mobile sites isn’t a death sentence for desktop-only sites.
Also, certain ranking factors are important for both mobile and desktops indexes. For instance, creating a good user experience on your site will serve you well on both indexes. Conversely, if you’re having issues with high bounce rates and poor-quality links, both desktop and mobile rankings are likely to decrease.
Responsive Sites Are Less Likely to Have Inconsistencies
If you have two versions of your site and you significantly pare down your content for the mobile version, it could reduce your ranking. If you have mobile and desktop URLs for your site, you’ll need to verify your mobile URLs in Search Console to ensure they’re ranked. You’ll also have to make sure your structured data markup appears on all of your mobile pages with separate, adaptive, or m.domain sites. With a responsive design, there’s only one website design to worry about, so there’s less risk of overlooking something that could tank your rankings. As for how a responsive mobile design may affect your desktop rankings, keep the following facts in mind:
• Desktop-only sites won’t perform as well as responsive ones because of a lack of mobile traffic
• Responsive websites may perform well in both indexes as long as other factors are in line with what Google prefers (e.g. quality, relevant content, and site structure)
• Current rankings for sites that use an m.subdomain to redirect visitors to the mobile version of the site may change slightly, although the mobile version of each page will be given preferential ranking treatment
• With adaptive sites, the most commonly accessed mobile version will be given preference for ranking purposes, which might help you maintain your desktop rankings because you’ll also have mobile pages being indexed.
Note: Google has been pushing Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs) in recent years. However, AMPs alone won’t give mobile sites an advantage for ranking purposes.
There are case studies suggesting sites with responsive designs perform better than those with no mobile design at all. Google also prefers responsive website designs, but Google preferences don’t determine rankings. Even so, there’s no denying the fact that a site that’s just as accessible from a desktop PC as it is from a mobile device is going to be more appealing to a broader range of visitors, which translates into a better user experience.
Whether you want to create a responsive website for your business or improve your search engine rankings, turn to Saba SEO. As a leading San Diego search engine marketing company, we have over ten years of professional experience in web development and SEO. Our experts can create a unique, mobile-friendly website and provide high-quality content that is sure to resonate well with your target audience and boost your online visibility. With our help, you can expand your outreach, attract high-quality leads, and increase your click-through and conversion rates. To schedule an appointment with one of our web development specialists, give us a call at 858-277-1717 today.